The pediatric optometrist continues to have a strong connection to the College.
When Ken Sorkin, O.D., FAAO, graduated from the SUNY College of Optometry in 1993, he received more than a degree—he also got what he calls a “professional parent.” And to nurture his end of the relationship, he has been an active alumnus, most recently speaking at this year’s orientation for the incoming class.
“You thank your parents on a regular basis—or at least you should. You should also thank and appreciate your school in the same spirit,” says Dr. Sorkin, who served as class president for three years when he was a student.
Now, to thank Dr. Sorkin for more than a decade of giving back, he is being honored as the College’s 2017 Alumnus of the Year. The award has been granted since 1998, with members of the Alumni Association Board voting on who has shown outstanding service to the school.
Beginning in 1999, Dr. Sorkin entered the field of pediatric optometry. He is an associate at the two offices of Long Island Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus in Plainview and Port Jefferson, New York, where he focuses exclusively on eye care for children and adolescents. He credits the College with pointing his interests in this direction.
“I truly think it was the comprehensive and broad scope of the didactic and clinical experience that SUNY provided that best prepared me for my career,” he says. “This, of course, included my year of residency at Northport Veterans Administration Medical Center. After spending an intense year of experience taking care of our elderly veterans, I felt comfortable joining a pediatric ophthalmology practice—and I can only attribute this to the outstanding pediatric curriculum and instructors at SUNY.”
In addition to his work at the practice, Dr. Sorkin is president of the New York State Optometric Association. Alongside a team of executive officers and regional trustees, he works to ensure legislative protection for optometrists, as well as expansion of the field’s scope. He became president this year, following stints as treasurer and vice president.
While the alumnus of the year finds great honor in being recognized for what he gives to the school, Dr. Sorkin also sees the time he spends on campus with students as a great learning experience for himself.
“I have a daughter who is the same age as currently enrolled optometry students,” he says. “I see in them, as I do in her, an altruism and desire to be involved with their community. It’s inspiring. I can’t think of a health profession that can fulfill this quest more than optometry.”