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Pictured (Left to right): Jillian Boyd DO ’18, Eun-Young (Esther) Ko DO ’19, and Alison Zhou DO ’18

School of Optometry Students Recognized by American Academy of Optometry Foundation

  • DECEMBER 7, 2017

    Students in the School of Optometry at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) are passionate about learning—both inside and outside of the classroom.

    Jillian Boyd OD’18 and Alison Zhou OD’18 were recently awarded the 2017 VSP Global/FYi Doctors Scholarship, which is administered through the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. Criteria for the award include clinical and academic performance, as well as the student’s commitment to entering the independent practice of optometry.

    As part of the scholarship, Boyd and Zhou were awarded a travel grant to attend a special reception at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 2017. The meeting is the premier platform for excellence in optometric practice, research, and knowledge dissemination. Other faculty and students from the School of Optometry also attended the meeting, where many of them presented accepted posters.

    “I was extremely honored to be chosen to receive this scholarship, along with Alison,” said Boyd. “Attending the meeting in Chicago with some of optometry’s brightest leaders was amazing. The things you learn and the people you network with aren’t something that can be taught in the classroom.”

    Zhou agreed. “The American Academy of Optometry is one of the conferences that I look forward to attending every year,” she said. “It is one of the largest conferences in the profession that’s heavily focused on education through research and residency. It gives students a taste of what research and clinical optometry is like and even an opportunity to pursue a fellowship in the future.”

    Boyd said the experience was extremely valuable. “My favorite part of the meeting was being able to attend lectures and listen to some of optometry’s smartest doctors speak on the newest research, treatments, and state-of-the-art technology,” she said. “I plan on continuing to go every year.”

    Zhou pointed out that the opportunity to network at the conference was extremely valuable as she prepares to enter the workforce. “Being in my final year of optometry, I found this year’s conference to be the most beneficial as it allowed me to network with doctors, residents, and industry partners,” she said. “I was able to get connected with the right people and resources that helped me to prepare for life after graduation.”

    One of the criteria for the scholarship is a commitment to entering independent practice, a passion shared by both Zhou and Boyd. “The optometry program at MCPHS has given me many leadership opportunities, which led to my interest in and passion for independent practice in optometry,” said Zhou, who plans to return to her hometown of Toronto, Canada, upon graduation to work as an associate in a private practice. “I also have an interest in vision therapy and children’s vision, and I hope to enhance these skills by learning from a local vision therapist or pursuing a residency. With these experiences, I hope to one day open a practice of my own and continue to serve the community.”

    Boyd is also looking forward to a future in independent practice. “After I graduate, I plan to open my own independent practice in Michigan and continue to stay actively involved with many organizations, including the American Academy of Optometry,” she said.

    Above all, both students are fascinated by the optometry field and proud to positively impact the lives of their patients in meaningful ways. “My favorite part of the optometry field is seeing someone’s face after they put their first pair of glasses on,” said Boyd, adding that she loves “educating people that the eyes are a window into the body and we can detect so many undiagnosed diseases, like diabetes or hypertension.”

    Zhou also appreciates the impact she has on patients. “It still fascinates me to this day how appreciative and amazed patients get when they’re finally able to see clearly,” she said. “Whether it’s through glasses, contact lenses, or vision therapy, optometrists continue to find new and improved technology to provide the best care possible to our patients. I love that there’s always something new to learn and to keep us on our toes!”

    The School of Optometry at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) offers a four-year, full-time Doctor of Optometry program designed to prepare students with the requisite skills, experience, and confidence to practice and advance as professional optometrists in a wide variety of clinical settings.

    Pictured (Left to right): Jillian Boyd OD’18, Eun-Young (Esther) Ko OD’19, and Alison Zhou OD’18