November 16, 2022

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

Nearly 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 nearly 50 current students during the College’s annual Scholarship Presentation program on Tuesday, November 15 with an audience of donors, students, parents, and foundation board members. Celebrated annually, it brings together scholarship recipients and donors to celebrate academic achievement 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 nearly 25 scholarships supporting 40-50 students annually. The generosity of donors allows the foundation to provide nearly $350,000 in total scholarship and grant support to deserving SUNY Optometry students on their journey to become eye doctors.

This year, several new scholarships were awarded as a result of the 50th Anniversary Celebration fundraising effort held in the spring. This includes two newly established endowed scholarships as well as three one-time scholarships.

Students are asked to share words of thanks with the donors and often express how scholarships not only reduce the financial strain, but provide encouragement and recognition of their dreams.

“Optometry has been a dream of mine since elementary school, and SUNY Optometry has been my dream institution since high school…I look forward to continuing my education at SUNY and hope to open my own private practice post-graduation where I hope to inspire an interest in young minds to explore optometry and find a passion for this field as I have.”

“I am so appreciative and immensely grateful for your financial support and symbolic encouragement in my journey to becoming an optometrist.”

“Your generosity is allowing me to make my goals a reality. I hope to one day give back and help other students achieve their goals.”

“Through its plethora of clinical applications, this curriculum has truly transformed my mindset and will continue to shape me into the clinician I dream of becoming. This scholarship assisted in easing some of the burdens associated with this rigorous program and for that I am truly thankful.

“The Scholarship Presentation is an event that the entire community looks forward to each year as it truly demonstrates the impact of giving by bringing the donors and scholarship recipients

together,” according to Dawn Rigney, Executive Director for the Optometric Center of New York. “In addition to inspiring and recognizing students, the demonstration of support encourages philanthropy and giving back among the recipients as well as the greater community.”

To establish a named or endowed scholarship in support of SUNY College of Optometry students, contact Dawn Rigney, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at

2022 Scholarships and Recipients

Dr. Nathan and Laura Millman Scholarships
Sweta Patel Class of 2025
Jessie Yu, Class of 2025
Laura Baldino, Class of 2025
Brian Song, Class of 2025
Joy Deshmukh, Class of 2025

Barbara Saltzman Scholarship
Olivia Ethe, Class of 2026

Fred Friedfeld Memorial Scholarship
Laura Medina, Class of 2024

Milton Scholarships
Samjhana Mandal, Class of 2023

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

Dr. Harold Solan Memorial Scholarship
Kendra Kim, Class of 2025

Jeff White Memorial Scholarship
Tiffany Y. Chen, Class of 2023

Omni Eye Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Glaucoma Care
Behrad Garmsiri, Class of 2023

Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarships
Gurleen Klair, Class of 2024
Sakshi Vasiu, Class of 2024
Nouralison Abdella, Class of 2024
Hassan Elhage, Class of 2024

Dennis and Lesley Gehr Scholarship
Tahmina Keya, Class of 2026

Alumni Scholarships
Zi Rui (Jerry) Li, Class of 2025
Julia Jager, Class of 2026

Alumni Memorial Scholarship
Anna Camporese, Class of 2025

Dr. Jerome Weiss Scholarship
Diana Geraghty, Class of 2023

Harold & Sheila Wilshinsky Scholarship
Jessica Moskovich, Class of 2024

Mary and Samuel Gurkin Memorial Scholarship
Eden Nourmand, Class of 2023

Philip and Sylvia Soden Memorial Scholarship
Emma Goodwin, Class of 2025

P. Gregory Hess Scholarship
Brandon Cohenmehr, Class of 2025

NYSOA Dr. Alden Haffner Scholarships
Aafreen Zaidi, Class of 2024 Tracy Tse, Class of 2024

NJAO Scholarship
Karen Chen, Class of 2026
Alyssa Clemente, Class of 2026

The Dr. Sandra Goldman Cohen ’82 Memorial Scholarship
Veena Bokka, Class of 2023

Dr. Sanford and Claire Levy Scholarships
Elaine Doxtader, Class of 2023
Jacob Roesnberg, Class of 2023
Mackenzie Reed, Class of 2024
Sarah Walsh, Class of 2024
Carlie Stalker, Class of 2026

Dr. Mark S. Feder Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Primary Care
Heather Min, Class of 2023

Eyes on New York Scholarship
Stuti Patel, Class of 2026

OCNY Scholarship for Clinical Excellence
Mackenzie Chapman, Class of 2023

SUNY Optometry Anniversary Scholarships
Alisa Pena, Class of 2024
Melinda Morvai, Class of 2026
Daipaul Brown, Class of 2026

November 16, 2022
Media contact: Dawn Rigney,, 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. For more information, please visit