November 21, 2023

Students express gratitude to donors for support that reduces debt and allows greater focus on studies

scholarship 11.14.2023
Photo Caption: Over 50 students receive scholarships at annual Scholarship Presentation

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NEW YORK, NY — The SUNY College of Optometry and its foundation, the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), recognized over 50 current students during the College’s annual Scholarship Presentation program on Tuesday, November 14 with an audience of donors, students, alumni, parents, and foundation board members. Hosted annually, it brings together scholarship recipients and donors to celebrate academic achievement, dedication, and philanthropy.

The OCNY Foundation’s scholarship program has grown substantially over the past two decades. Starting with 5 scholarships awarded to six students, the efforts have grown to 27 named scholarships supporting over 50 students annually. The generosity of donors allows the foundation to provide nearly $370,000 in total scholarship and grant support to deserving SUNY Optometry students on their journey to become eye doctors.

“This is a wonderful evening, one of the highlights of the year, where donors are brought together with the scholarship students,” noted SUNY College of Optometry President, Dr. David A. Heath. “I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is, and how important it is, that when student debt is reduced by virtue of these scholarships, our generous donors are providing our students with greater choice and opportunity in their optometric journey.”

Dr. Heath went on to note that this year, the OCNY saw a scholarship increase of $50,000, including several new scholarships:

Optical Community Scholarship: donated by David Friedfeld which created an endowed fund

and will be given annually to optometry students who demonstrate personal experience with or an interest in working with underrepresented patients and communities.

Community Health Lecture Scholarship: is awarded to those interested in healthcare access and community health centers. This endowed scholarship was established through the partnership of the New York Community Trust, Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight, Community Health Care Association of New York State, and SUNY College of Optometry as they advocate to bring eye care to community health centers around the state.

Paul Canney Scholarship: was donated by Class of 2023 Alumna Dr. Avalena Linsky, and named for her great-grandfather who helped inspire Dr. Linsky’s journey. This is anticipated to be an annual scholarship in the years to come.

Dr. Linsky spoke fondly of her great-grandfather, noting his very advanced macular degeneration and his struggle to find access to adequate healthcare in the part of the country where he lived. “My great-grandfather funded part of my education, so my mom and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him, than to contribute to someone else’s education who is studying advanced competency in ocular disease.”

“We offer our heartfelt thanks to all of the donors who have supported scholarships throughout the years. Your donations, whether from alumni, Foundation board members, industry partners, or community members, truly have an impact on the lives of our students and ultimately the patients they serve throughout their career,” quoted Dawn Rigney, Executive Director of the Optometric Center of New York.

To establish a named or endowed scholarship in support of SUNY College of Optometry students, contact Dawn Rigney, at or (212)-938-5600. Click here to see the livestream event from November 14, 2023 EST:

2023 Scholarships and Recipients
Dr. Nathan and Laura Millman Scholarship
SeongEun Kim Class of 2026
Lucille Hindley Class of 2026
Page Hazen Class of 2026
Claire Goucher Class of 2026
Priya Felix Class of 2026
Monica Van Duyne Class of 2026
Gabriella Sinoway Class of 2026

Omni Eye Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Glaucoma Care
Nada Fareed Class of 2024

NJAO Scholarship
Sophia Khan Class of 2027
Dina Gad Class of 2027

Dr. Alden Haffner Scholarship (NYSOA)
Alicia Defonte Class of 2025
Allison Wu Class of 2025

Alumni Scholarships
Adria Gali Class of 2027
Maxine Humphrey Class of 2027

Alumni Memorial Scholarship
Alyssa Siglar Class of 2027

Dr. Sandra Goldman Cohen ’82 Memorial Scholarship
Nouralison Abdella Class of 2024

Paul Canney Scholarship
Emma Goodwin Class of 2025

Milton Scholarship
Samjhana Mandal Class of 2024
Franc Kolami Class of 2024
Sakshi Vasiu Class of 2024
Grace Ji Class of 2025
Arturo Vale Class of 2025
Lucille Hindley Class of 2026
Inji Kang Class of 2026

Fred Friedfeld Memorial Scholarship (ClearVision)
Gurleen Klair Class of 2024

Harold Spielman
Melanie Feliz Class of 2027

Optical Community Scholarship
Christine Chou Class of 2025
Nia Ebrahim Class of 2024

Harold & Sheila Wilshinsky Scholarship
Nicole Loan Class of 2025

Barbara Saltzman Scholarship
Ronit Eliav Class of 2027

Dr. Sanford and Claire Levy Scholarships (Central NY Foundation)
MacKenzie Reed Class of 2024
Sarah Walsh Class of 2024
Eden Shiomos Class of 2027
Carlie Stalker Class of 2026
Emily Zimmerman Class of 2024

Dennis and Lesley Gehr Scholarship
Izabella Bangiyeva Class of 2027

Dr. Jerome Weiss Scholarship
Sakshi Vasiu Class of 2024

Jeff White Memorial Scholarship
Hassan Elhage Class of 2024

Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarship
Laura Baldino Class of 2025
Brian Song Class of 2025
Emma Goodwin Class of 2025
Brandon Cohenmehr Class of 2025
Kendra Kim Class of 2025
Sweta Patel Class of 2025
Joy Deshmukh Class of 2025
Diana Shalamov Class of 2025

Dr. Mark Feder Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Primary Care
Zara Farooq Class of 2024

P. Gregory Hess Scholarship
Alyssa Keller Class of 2025

OCNY Scholarship for Clinical Excellence
Jessica Moskovich Class of 2024

Eyes on New York Scholarship
Madison Ruiz Class of 2027

Community Health Leaders Scholarship
Sandra Chimil Class of 2027
Reuben Atubiga Class of 2027
Melanie Feliz Class of 2027
Alyssa Ocasio Class of 2027

Dr. Harold Solan Memorial Scholarship
Niyati Boghani Class of 2026

Mary & Samuel Gurkin Memorial Scholarship
Jessica Moskovich Class of 2024

Philip & Sylvia Soden Memorial Scholarship
Jacqueline Shannon Class of 2026

November 20, 2023 Media contact: Rob Rosiello,, 212-938-5600


About SUNY College of 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 the Optometric Center of New York

Founded in 1956, the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) currently serves as the college-related, tax-exempt foundation for SUNY College of Optometry and its affiliated patient care clinic, the University Eye Center. OCNY stands as an example of what partnership among visionary community leaders, educators, and businesses can accomplish. Since its inception, the

OCNY has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting vision care for underserved populations; educating the next generation of optometrists, including providing merit and need-based scholarships to students; and advancing research into the complex human visual system. The Foundation is undergoing a name and branding change becoming the SUNY College of Optometry Foundation in 2024. For more information, please visit