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Jennifer Chu, OD ‘20, Receives the Brett G. Bence Leadership Travel Fellowship

Jennifer Chu portrait Jennifer Chu, Class of 2020

New England College of Optometry (NECO) congratulates third year student Jennifer Chu, Class of 2020, as the recipient of the 2018 inaugural Brett G. Bence Leadership Travel Fellowship. The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. sponsor the award presented to a third or fourth year student or a resident enrolled in a college or school of optometry who has demonstrated leadership in the past and envisions a life of leadership in the field throughout their career.

Jennifer Chu receiving certificate from Dr. Brett Bence and AAO representative. Jennifer Chu receives her award from Dr. Bence
This award is named after Dr. Bruce Bence, the 46th  president of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO).  Chu was chosen as the first recipient of the award for this newly established fellowship grant.  She was able to attend the Academy conference in San Antonio this year where Dr. Bence was on hand to personally present her certificate. 

Chu explains, “One of the most beneficial skills I’ve learned from my leadership experience is how to tackle hard conversations with tact. In a time where we often meet others in person and online who hold opposing views, it is helpful to know strategies to navigate sensitive topics and how to facilitate conversation in an effective way. Though there is not as much divide in the optometric community as other groups of people in the nation, we can only benefit from working together.

“I had the opportunity to serve alongside Jennifer during two FCO mission trips, one in 2017 and one in 2018, explains Nicole Pogue, OD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Optometry, NECO. “Jennifer took on the role of student co-leader for the 2018 trip and in the days preceding the trip demonstrated her ability to handle high stress situations as she communicated with multiple parties, led fundraisers, and managed the financial details for all the students on the team. Before the trip Jennifer made a substantial impact in facilitating team coherence through coordinating practice sessions and also team bonding events. During the trip she lead by example by working hard during the extremely hot clinic days and was so kind to her fellow peers as well as her patients. Jennifer is a compassionate clinician who naturally builds rapport with patients as well as her fellow colleagues. She is enthusiastic about the profession of optometry and helping others obtain the best vision possible.”


About the Brett G. Bence Leadership Student Travel Fellowship

“The American Academy of Optometry portends a leadership culture.  At the Academy annual meeting, we highlight and encourage attendance at our introductory as well as advanced leadership training courses.  The Merton C. Flom Leadership Insight© Program at the Academy annual meeting is often regarded as the leading courses in the profession to further our knowledge of leadership fundamentals and principles. This student travel fellowship includes paid attendance to one of the two leadership classes.”  (source: American Academy of Optometry Foundation website) 


About New England College of Optometry

New England College of Optometry is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. NECO was founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, and is the oldest continuously operating school of optometry in the United States. NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences.   Through a vast network of clinical affiliations, our students put patient care first, providing vision care to children, older adults, the homeless, and individuals with disabilities through our mobile eye clinic, satellite clinics in schools, homeless shelters, community health centers, and VA medical centers.

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722
email: hoogendoorni@neco.edu