Class of 2016 Celebrated at Commencement


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“I challenge each one of my classmates to realize just how far we’ve come.”

Jenna Salner
President of the Class of 2016, Jenna Salner

Jenna Salner, president of the Class of 2016, offered this task to her fellow graduates at the 42nd commencement of the SUNY College of Optometry on May 26. And indeed they have come far during their four years at the College, with their journey culminating on a steamy spring afternoon in front of friends and family at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

“We’re here to celebrate the achievements of these talented young people,” SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath told the gathering. “Your skills, your knowledge, your passion are needed now more than ever.”

President Heath (left) congratulating Dr. Scott Richter after the presentation of the Presidential Medallion
President Heath (left) congratulating Dr. Scott Richter 

Eighty students received their Doctor of Optometry degrees at the ceremony, with five also receiving an MS in Vision Science and two additional students receiving PhD degrees in Vision Science.

Dr. Ramanathan Raju, president and chief executive officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal healthcare system in the nation, gave the commencement address where he recognized the key role that optometry has played in the changing health care system.

Mr. Harold Wilshinski receiving the Benjamin Franklin Society Award
Mr. Harold Wilshinsky receiving the Benjamin Franklin Society Award

“Optometry has been a leader,” Dr. Raju said. “Helping to make health care a more efficient and pleasing experience.” He went on to say that “all of health care needs to be more like optometry.”

Dr. Raju advised the newly-minted doctors that if they demonstrated their value and put their patients first they would succeed in their careers, no matter what their mode of practice.

Dr. Ramanthan Raju (left) with President Heath
Dr. Ramanathan Raju (left) with President Heath

For the third straight year, President Heath conferred the Presidential Medallion to a long-serving member of the faculty. This year’s recipient, Dr. Scott Richter, is retiring from SUNY Optometry after serving the institution for four decades.

“I give thanks to my colleagues and to my students for pushing me further than I ever would have gone,” he said after receiving the honor.

In addition, the Benjamin Franklin Society Award was presented to Optometric Center of New York trustee, Mr. Harold Wilshinsky, in honor of his many years of service to the foundation and the College.

To see and download images from Commencement, click here (or on the image below)

Students with graduation caps

Click here for more about Dr. Ramanathan Raju, Dr. Scott Richter and Mr. Harold Wilshinsky 


Earlier in the day, SUNY Optometry presented a series of graduation awards to members of the Class of 2016. Below is a complete listing of the awards and recipients:

To see and download images from the Graduation Awards Ceremony, click here (or on the image below)
Grad Awards Cover

Academic and Clinical Awards

BETA SIGMA  KAPPA AWARD
For Academic Excellence (Sponsored by Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honorary Fraternity)
Ellen Jean McCrary

DR. FREDERICK W. BROCK MEMORIAL AWARD
For Outstanding Clinical Performance in Vision Therapy (Sponsored by the Optometric  Center of New York)
Alexandria Tilley

COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRISTS IN VISION DEVELOPMENT AWARD
For Excellence in Vision Therapy (Sponsored by COVD)
Malvika Saharya

COLUMBIA  CLASS OF 1936 AWARD
For Academic and Clinical Achievement in Ocular Pathology (Sponsored by the Class of 1936, Columbia University, School of Optometry)
Brittney Melissa Gewolb

CLASS OF 1991 PACESETTER AWARD
For Excellence in Primary Care (Sponsored by the Class of 1991, SUNY College of Optometry)
Alison Emiko Noritake

DR. STANLEY EISENBERG MEMORIAL AWARD
For Proficiency and Excellence in Practice Development and Administration (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Dariah Borah

DR. WILLIAM FEINBLOOM MEMORIAL AWARD
For Outstanding Clinical Proficiency in Low Vision (Sponsored by Designs for Vision, Inc.)
Andrew N. Attia

IRA GOLDFARB MEMORIAL AWARD
For Excellence in Low Vision (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Vanessa Marie Fimreite

DR. LOUIS HERRMANN MEMORIAL AWARD
For Outstanding Compassion in Patient Care (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Sarah Ann Lapicki

DR. AND MRS. IRVING UNGER AWARD
For Excellence in Optometry (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Laura Michelle Zavilensky

THE JOSH WALLMAN, PhD MEMORIAL  RESEARCH AWARD
For Excellence in Research (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Tobin Vijayan Ansel

ESTHER J. WERNER MEMORIAL  AWARD
For Academic Excellence (Sponsored by the Benjamin Franklin Society)
Barbara M. Mendoza

Service Awards

ABRAM A. HUBAL, OD, STUDENT SERVICE AWARD
(Sponsored by the Optometric  Center of New York and The New York State Optometric  Association)
Matthew K. Roe

DR. MAX COHEN MEMORIAL AWARD
For Volunteer Commitment to Community Service (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Tracy Elizabeth Borst
Tobin Vijayan Ansel

DR. BENJAMIN FREED MEMORIAL AWARD
For Community  Service (Sponsored by Readers Digest Partners for Sight)
Christie Muir Mackenzie

MORTON L. KIMMELMAN MEMORIAL AWARD
For Student Leadership within  Organized Optometry (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Matthew  K. Roe

BILLIE M. LYONS MEMORIAL AWARD
For Distinguished Service to the College Community (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Vanessa Marie  Fimreite
Rebecca Rose Charlop

NYSOA  AUXILIARY AWARD
For Outstanding Service to the Class of 2016 (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Jenna Bryanne Salner

Professional Distinction Awards

ALCON AWARD
For Outstanding Case Report on the Fitting of an Alcon Product (Sponsored by Alcon)
Kathryn Anne Werner

GP LENS INSTITUTE  CLINICAL  EXCELLENCE AWARD
For Outstanding Clinical  Proficiency in Contact Lenses (Sponsored by GP Lens Institute)
Irene Christine Frantzis

DR. WILLIAM M. EISENBERG MEMORIAL AWARD
For Excellence in Ocular Disease (Sponsored by Alcon)
Patrice Grant

ESCHENBACH AWARD
For Excellence in Low Vision (Sponsored by Eschenbach)
Sandhya S. Ramsook

JOHNSON AND JOHNSON VISION  CARE AWARD
For Excellence in Clinical Contact Lenses Patient Care (Sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, Inc.)
Alison Emiko Noritake

MARCHON AWARD
For Excellence in Practice Management (Sponsored by Marchon Eyewear)
Lina Rita Cawog

MIRAMED 20/20 VISION AWARD
For Excellence in Optometry (Sponsored by MiraMed Tech)
Patrice Grant

OPTOLEC LOW VISION AWARD
For Excellence in Low Vision
Noah Tannen

Residency Award

DR. MARTIN H. BIRNBAUM MEMORIAL AWARD
For Outstanding Knowledge and Skills in Behavioral Optometry (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)
Lauren Strawn, OD
(To be presented at Residency Ceremony)

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