August 22, 2023

New York, NY:  Alumni from across the country will come together in New York City in September to celebrate with former classmates and honor distinguished colleagues in a tradition of leadership and advocacy that has been the hallmark of SUNY College of Optometry for more than 50 years. This year’s honorees include four distinguished alumnae who will be honored at the annual Alumni Award Celebration and Reunion on Saturday, September 9, 2023.  The Awards Celebration will begin at 7pm at The Empire Ballroom at 230 Fifth Avenue in New York City.  This year’s honorees include:  Dr. Julia Appel, ’91, R’92 (Distinguished Resident Alumni of the Year); Dr. Mary Botelho, ’17, R’18 (Rising Star);  Dr. Viola Kanevsky, ’93 (Alumna of the Year); and Dr. Damaris Raymondi, ’15 (Alumni Mentor of the Year).

Dr. Julia Appel ‘91, R’92, is the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Resident of the year and was recognized during the annual Residents Program Farewell Ceremony in June.  Dr. Appel has served as a member of the SUNY Optometry faculty since 1992 supporting students as the clinical education coordinator for third-year interns and as an eye care provider in the University Eye Center until her retirement earlier this summer.  Dr. Appel served the College and alumni community as Alumni Association President (2009 to 2013), championed the first-ever capital campaign and encouraged the funding of the Class of 1991 Pacesetter Award.  She received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015, the New York State Optometric Association’s Optometric Educator of the Year Award in 2017 and was named the 2019 Alumna of the Year by the SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Association. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. At Commencement this year, Dr. David A. Heath, President of SUNY College of Optometry, bestowed upon Dr. Appel the Presidential Medallion for her career-long contributions and dedication to the advancement of the College and the communities it serves.

Dr. Mary Botelho ’17, R’18, was selected as the 2023 Rising Star by the SUNY Optometry Alumni Association.  Prior to attending SUNY Optometry, Dr. Botelho graduated from Marist College with a BS in Biological and Biomedicine Sciences.  Currently, she sees patients at the NYU Langone Family Group Practice and is Director of Optometry at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, NY. Prior to Bellevue Hospital, Dr. Botelho worked in multiple clinics and neighborhoods throughout the boroughs of New York City. On Coney Island, she provided pediatric eyecare and partnered with OneSight to provide free glasses to students in need. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, at NYU Langone Brooklyn Hospital, she provided care to many uninsured patients with socioeconomic barriers. There she performed outpatient exams, emergency room and inpatient consults, and during the peak of COVID-19 she performed bedside eye exams in the COVID ICU.  Dr. Botelho also serves as an externship site supervisor for fourth year students and is a SUNY adjunct faculty member.

The 2023 Alumna of the Year is Dr. Viola Kanevsky ’93.  Among her many accomplishments, including being named the #1 optometrist in the nation on the list of America’s Best Eye Doctors in 2022 and 2023 and being named NYSOA’s Optometrist of the year, Dr. Kanevsky is an active volunteer, mentor, and advocate for SUNY College of Optometry. She is the immediate past President of the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) having served on its board in various capacities for several years. She has also held volunteer and elected positions in the American Optometric Association, the Optometric Society of the City of New York, and the Interschool Orchestras of New York.  She is the treasurer of the NY chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) and has joined VOSH on medical missions in underserved areas around the world.

Before attending SUNY Optometry, Dr. Kanevsky earned a BS from Pace University and currently is a pediatric optometrist specializing in custom contact lenses, who has practiced on the Upper West Side for almost 30 years.

As an avid supporter of the arts and prolific writer, Dr. Kanevsky is a contributing editor of ODs on Facebook and Editor in Chief of Insights, the monthly newsletter of the Optometric Society of the City of New York. A board member for Women in Optometry, Dr. Kanevsky often shares articles and insights on optometry. She also supports the New York Youth Symphony and Concerts in Motion.

Dr. Damaris Raymondi ’15 is the 2023 Alumni Mentor of the Year.   She graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University with a B.S. degree in Biology and is a member of The New York State Optometric Association.  Dr. Raymondi focuses on pediatrics and general ocular disease in her practice. She volunteers as an advisor to the non-profit organization Sights on Health which provides annual cataract surgical and medical missions to those in need in the U.S.A. and abroad. On social media she is @newyorkeyedoc and she hosts her a weekly podcast, Eyes Up, on which she interviews inspiring healthcare professionals with conversations meant to recharge her listeners before they start their workweek. Dr. Raymondi has served as a mentor to SUNY Optometry students the past few years and was selected by students in the mentoring program for this award.   

To reserve a ticket for the 7pm Alumni Awards Celebration or purchase a ticket to the 8pm Alumni Reunion, please see the links below:

Media Contact: Rob Rosiello,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 22, 2023


About SUNY Optometry
Founded in 1971 and located in New York City, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a leader in education, research, and patient care, offering the Doctor of Optometry degree as well as MS and PhD degrees in vision science. The College conducts a robust program of basic, translational and clinical research and has 65 affiliated clinical training sites as well as an on-site clinic, the University Eye Center.  SUNY Optometry is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; its four-year professional degree program and residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. All classrooms, research facilities and the University Eye Center, which is one of the largest optometric outpatient facilities in the nation, are located on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. To learn more about SUNY Optometry, visit