SUNY College of Optometry’s CSTEP Program Receives INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine’s 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award

August 3, 2023

Award Nationally Recognizes Programs That Are Making a Difference for
All Underrepresented Groups in the Fields of Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

New York, NY—Today, SUNY College of Optometry’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) Program received the 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).   SUNY Optometry will be featured, along with 79 other recipients, in the September 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine noted, “This year’s honorees truly are an inspiration to all of us who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of all individuals from underrepresented groups. Your award-winning program supports this important work through mentoring and teaching, research, and other efforts worthy of this national recognition.”

“I’m very proud of the significant impact we’ve made in the last seven years,” noted Quy H. Nguyen, OD, Director of Minority Enrichment (CSTEP).  “When I began my role, we had 3 CSTEP students matriculating at SUNY, to this past 21-22 cycle it had increased to 19 enrolled CSTEP students – that is a 533% increase!  I am proud of the work of my office and all of our staff and administrators who have supported us and our wonderful students along the way!  It is indeed inspiring to see increasing diversity at the College, the wonderful community that we’ve built, and most importantly, graduating more and more culturally-competent doctors that play a pivotal role in health disparities.”

As its primary objective, the CSTEP program at SUNY College of Optometry exists to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students in STEM targeted professions, most particularly in the growing and dynamic profession of optometry.  The program is open to all New York State residents who are economically disadvantaged and a member of an underrepresented community.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “Only 2% of all optometrists in America identify as Black, and the majority of medical students overall, about 75%, come from households with income levels in the top 40%. Programs like CSTEP at SUNY College of Optometry are actively working to change these statistics by increasing the representation of professionals of color and students from low income households in this field. The program provides students with invaluable experiences, which is crucial in ensuring they feel welcomed, valued, and supported in this field. I applaud SUNY Optometry for this recognition from INSIGHT Into Diversity and look forward to seeing the continued growth of this program, ultimately resulting in greater representation in more medical professions and improved healthcare for New Yorkers.”

Throughout the past decade, over 420 participants have benefited from SUNY Optometry’s CSTEP program as they explore STEM and health care related fields. Uniquely, the CSTEP students who enroll in SUNY Optometry become part of the SUNY Optometry Irises cohort which provides academic and mentoring support throughout their time at the college. It is for these reasons that INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the SUNY College of Optometry CSTEP Program.

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

A call for nominations for this award was announced in April 2023.

For more information about the 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit

CONTACT:  Rob Rosiello,



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

About INSIGHT Into Diversity  
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education today and is known for its annual INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the only award that recognizes colleges and universities for outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts across their campuses. INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine presents timely, thought-provoking news and feature stories on matters of diversity and inclusion in higher education and beyond. Articles include interviews with innovators and experts, as well as explorations of best practices and profiles of exemplary programs. In our Career Center, readers will also discover career opportunities that connect job seekers with institutions and businesses that embrace a diverse and inclusive workforce. Current, archived, and digital issues of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine are available online at