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NECO Honors Students at Annual Scholarship Ceremony

Congratulations to the 2016 Scholarship Recipients at New England College of Optometry. This distinguished group of students was honored for their excellence in scholarship, leadership, and clinical expertise on March 24, 2016.

President Clifford Scott led the ceremony explaining the nature of each scholarship and the ideals they represent. Other presenters included Financial Aid Director Carol Rubel, faculty members Debora Nickla and Steven Koevary, Alumni Association representative Dr. Walter Potaznick, and Dr. Paul White.

President Scott and four students holding certificates

Beider Moral Obligation Scholarship

Warren H. Beider, OD ’26, graduated when he was only twenty years old and practiced optometry for over fifty years. To honor his alma mater, he created this scholarship to honor academically strong students. This year’s award recipients were Jordan Davidner, Rebecca Deffler, Craig Hartenstein, Michael Merritt, and Adrian Montes.


President Scott and Cayla Bergstrom

Edith and Erich Heymans Scholarship: Cayla Bergstrom

This scholarship was create by the Heymans to honor the former NECO Business Manager’s fondness for the College.  Mr. Heymans was a German immigrant who worked at the College in the late 1960’s as a part-time Business Manager.  Cayla Bergstrom was chosen to receive this award as a student of high scholastic standing who exhibits integrity, dedication, and a high level of accuracy.


President Scott and two students holding certificates

Foster Namias Scholarship

The Class of 1950 initiated this scholarship to honor Dr. Namias and his fifty year tenure at the College. Preeti Minhas and Angela Tchao were selected because of their outstanding academic performances.


President Scott standing with Tea Pasholli who is holding red certificateWallace F. Molinari Scholarship: Tea Pasholli

This award was established by Dr. Joseph Molinari, and is given to an entering student based on academic achievement and leadership. This year’s recipient was Tea Pasholli.



President Scott and Juan Ding, who is holding red certificate

Charles Robert Soltes Scholarship: Juan Ding

This scholarship was created to honor Major Charles Robert Soltes, OD ’98, the first optometrist ever killed in action while serving on active duty in the US military. This award was established by faculty, staff, and friends of the College in his memory to honor his loyalty, integrity and compassion for his patients. Juan Ding was chosen to receive this award.

 American Optometric Foundation’s J. Pat Cummings Scholarship: Chantelle Davis

President Scott and Chantelle Davis, who is holding award plaque

This American Optometric Foundation award is offered to a student who best demonstrates the ideal eye care standards of practice, has demonstrated achievements in academic performance and extra-curricular activities, professional pursuits, patient involvement, community service, and volunteerism. This year’s recipient is Chantelle Davis.


Varilux Student Grant Award: David Folman

President Scott standing with David Folman

This award is presented to a student based on dispensing skills, application of Varilux lenses to patient needs, and the analysis of a case described in a case report. David Folman was selected as this year’s winner.


Robert A. Titelbaum OD Award for Clinical Proficiency and Excellence: Thu Nguyen

President Scott standing with The Nguyen

This award honors three generations of optometrists in the Titelbaum family by recognizing a student who has changed career paths and shown exceptional clinical proficiency and excellence. This year’s recipient is Thu Nguyen.


The Alumni Scholarship

Group of student alumni scholarship winners each holding their certificates

Each year, the Alumni Association selects scholarship recipients based on record of service to the College and/or profession, and the potential for continued active participation in the alumni association, demonstrated community service, and academic performance. Representing the Alumni Scholarship Committee, Dr. Walter Potaznick, OD ’76, presented the awards this year to Juan Ding, Hilary Hamer, Swati Kumar, Julie Les, Michael Merritt, Lenna Walker, Hannah Woodward, and Steven Weifenbach.

Dr. Koevary standing with Emily SlootDr. John Carter Scholarship: Emily Sloot

This scholarship was created to honor Dr. John Carter and his long, distinguished career in optometry and optometric education. This year’s recipient, Emily Sloot, was chosen for her excellent grades in all pharmacology coursework.


Dr. Koevary standing with Shane Stevens

Otto Hochstadt Scholarship: Shane Stevens

This award was created by Otto Hochstadt, an influential faculty member who taught medical sciences. He helped the college gain approval to grant a bachelor’s degree and subsequently, an OD degree. Shane Stevens was chosen as this year’s recipient for his outstanding hard work and remarkable GPA in the first year Bioscience curriculum.


Dr. Nickla standing with Ryan RacetteMonthe N. Kofos Scholarship: Ryan Racette

This scholarship was created by a gift from Dr. Kofos. It is given to Ryan Racette because of her potential to contribute to the profession and considerable academic achievement.



Dr. Nickla standing with Charles Johnson

Harry and Sara Pildes Scholarship: Charles Johnson

The Pildes family created this scholarship in honor of their parents and awarded to a first year student in the four-year program. Charles Johnson was chosen for his academic achievement and potential to become an active and concerned member of the alumni body of the College and the profession.


Ms. Rubel standing with Hamdee HoucheimiKlein Family Scholarship: Hamdee Houcheimi

This scholarship honors Dr. Herman L. Klein, descendant of the founder of the College and president of the Board of Trustees from 1946 to 1950. Hamdee Houcheimi was selected as this year’s recipient to acknowledge his academic excellence prior to entering the College.



Ms. Rubel standing with Tracy Weng

Jean M. Lank Memorial Scholarship: Tracy Weng

This scholarship honors Dr. Jean M. Lank, who made a career change and graduated from the college in 1987. After passing away only two years later, her family established this scholarship in her memory. Tracy Weng was selected as this year’s recipient. Tracy wrote in her essay, “My work with front-line healthcare providers and administrators has provided new perspectives on medical ideals and financial realities. This job has prepared me to be an analytical, collaborative, and compassionate optometrist.”

Ms Rubel standing with Vivian LyRose and Warren Gilford, Dr. Arnelda Levine and Dr. Janet Mechanic OD1 Award: Vivian Ly

This award was created by Rose and Warren Gilford to honor the lives, distinguished professional achievement, and exemplary service of their friends, Drs. Levine and Mechanic. This award celebrates the influx of talented and qualified women to the optometric profession. Vivian Ly was chosen to receive this award because of her excellent academic record as an entering student.


Dr. Paul White and Mrs. Allard with Alex Martin

Dr. Robert Allard Compassionate Clinician Award: Alexander Martin

This award is given to honor the compassionate and excellent clinician Dr. Robert Allard. For many years Dr. Allard was a clinical faculty member at NECO and shared his vast knowledge, extraordinary care, and dedication to his patients with NECO students. He passed away in June, 2009 after waging a courageous battle with ALS.  This award is given to a third year student who combines both knowledge and technical skills with compassion and caring for patients. Dr. Paul White detailed Dr. Allard’s compassion, warmth, and spirit before presenting the award with Mrs. Allard to Alexander Martin.