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New England College of Optometry Celebrates 124th Commencement

Class of 2018 group photo Class of 2018

On Sunday, May 20, 2018, New England College of Optometry (NECO) celebrated its 124th commencement ceremony at historic Boston Symphony Hall. The College conferred 126 Doctor of Optometry degrees to students in the four-year OD program and in special programs – AODP (Accelerated Optometry Degree Program), ASIP (Advanced Standing International Program) and MS/OD China. Three students were awarded a Master of Science Degree in addition to their OD degrees. NECO also recognized Stephanie Adams as the first recipient of the joint OD/PhD degree program with Boston University.

Faculty Marshall Richard Jamara, OD ‘80 and Student Marshal Frank Thorn, OD ‘79, PhD, led the processional this year.  In addition to faculty and staff, the Board of Trustees, senior leadership, and members of the 50thanniversary class, were in attendance to honor the Class of 2018.  Special VIPs included Barbara Kamens and Dr. Sally Dang.

President Scott at PodiumThis year marked two momentous occasions for President Clifford Scott, OD’ 68, MPH.  Dr. Scott joined the Class of 1968 in celebrating the 50threunion of what was then called the Massachusetts College of Optometry. This Commencement also marked Dr. Scott’s final ceremony as President of the College, a role he has had for the past 9 years. 

Returning for the fourth year for the Invocation and Benediction was Reverend Nancy S. Taylor, senior minister and Chief Executive Officer of Old South Church, setting a joyous tone with pointed optometry metaphors and witty rhymes. Board Chair Pano Yeracaris and Dr. Tony Cavallerano, Executive Director of Clinical Training/Patient Care and Director of Professional Relations, each offered congratulations and advice for the graduates. Dr. Cavallerano noted, “These are historic times in health care, posing challenges but also providing you with opportunities. You will be part of this transformation and you can choose to be agents of change that help propel optometry into the future. I encourage you to embrace this technology in eye care, use it to your advantage to improve efficiency providing timely, quality eye care.”

Jonathan Jimmerson, OD ’12, Vice President of the Executive Alumni Board and Director of Vision Services at Charles River Community Health welcomed the group to the alumni association and reminded the graduates of their immense impact during their time at the College and also the impact they will continue to make over the course of their careers.  He shared personal stories of how members of the Class of 2018 had made a difference during their clinical work and the hashtags they shared on social media such as “I helped a four year old boy with amblyopia adjust the glasses that he just received so that he could see his parents for the first time.” #allthefeels and “I fit an elderly gentleman with contacts, pushing him to tears of joy for being able to see the bottom line of the chart and figuring out that he could go ahead and drive his wife to dinner.” #icansee

Dr. Scott introduced incoming President, Dr. Howard Purcell, OD '84, who wished the class well and encouraged them to achieve all the goals and aspirations they have for the profession and their careers. Like Dr. Jimmerson, he noted the encouraged students to take advantages of opportunities they will create to make an impact on people’s lives through their careers. 

Tecleab Neguse and his wife and daughter

Presidential Medal: Tecleab Neguse

Dr. Scott presented the Presidential Medal to Tecleab Neguse for three decades of service to the College. The Presidential Medal is awarded at the discretion of the President to individuals who have enhanced the prestige and reputation of the College. Tecleab Neguse has contributed to the College’s success as manager of building and grounds and safety and security since coming to the United States from Eritrea. His family was at the ceremony to help honor his contributions.

Class Valedictorian: Preeti Minhas

Preeti MinhasPreeti Minhas, OD ’18, provided the valedictory remarks. Dr. Minhas hails from British Columbia, Canada and chose NECO for its early introduction to clinical education, its exposure to variety of different patient populations and the amazing opportunity to live in Boston. Her diverse rotations included Boston Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Tufts Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the Cotting School, and Charles River Community Health Center. She offered her peers 9 points of advice about time management, patience, snow, adaptability, perseverance, clinical judgment, knowledge, support, and passion.

Class of 2018 Hooding and Diplomas

Before the conferring of degrees, President Scott acknowledged the students ho had served on the Student council, as well as those who received awards for clinical, personal achievement, academic, and scholarship.  Candidates were hooded by NECO faculty members and award recipients William Sleight, OD ’82 (Foster Namias Award) and Tim Bossie, OD ’12 (Carroll Martus Award) as Interim Dean Sandra Mohr read the names. President Scott was assisted by Class of 2019 Student Class President Kayla Andrade in the Conferral of Degrees. Trustee Ronald Ferrucci, OD ‘74, then led the new Doctors in the Optometric Oath.

View more photos of Commencement 2018 on Flickr.

Graduates taking optometric oath.

Graduate getting hooded

Class of 2018 Awards and Achievements

Personal Achievement Awards

  • Dr. Hyman R. Kamens Award: Alicia Hanley
  • F. Dow Smith Award: Brett Hollenbach
  • Dr. Edward Joseph Troendle, Jr. Award: Kaitlyn Huebsch

Academic Awards

  • Valedictory & Beta Sigma Kappa Medal: Preeti Minhas
  • Salutatorian Award: Marc Deeley
  • ASIP Scholastic Achievement Award: Zahra Nathani
  • William R. Baldwin Scholastic Achievement Award: Olena Zhuravlova

Scholarship Awards

  • Alumni Association Scholarship: Fernando Elias, Micaela Gobeille, Zahra Nathani, Shane Stevens
  • William C. Barrett Memorial Scholarship: Magen Hartnett
  • Beider Moral Obligation Scholarship: Jamie Brosof, Chantelle Davis, Lindsey Fields, Micaela Gobeille, Shreya Jayasimha, Reeti Minhas, Lenna Walker
  • Joseph and Judith Ann Feldberg Scholarship: Marc Deeley, Preeti Minhas, Meghan Telfer
  • Charles Rob Soltes Scholarship: Zahra Nathani
  • Vision Service Plan Scholarship: Chantelle Davis and Karlee Muller
  • VOSH One Award: Chantelle Davis and Micaela Gobeille
  • Ned S. Witkin Leadership in Low Vision Award: Chantelle Davis
  • Walmart Scholarship: Doriana Veneziano

Academic Awards

  • Valedictory & Beta Sigma Kappa Medal: Preeti Minhas
  • Salutatorian Award: Marc Deeley
  • Advanced Standing International Program Scholastic Achievement Award: Zahra Nathani 
  • William R. Baldwin Scholastic Achievement Award: Olena Zhuravlova

Clinical Awards

Contact Lens

  • Alcon Case Report Award: Julianne Shelton
  • GP Contact Lens Clinical Excellence Award: Vicky Yiannoulis
  • American Optometric Foundation Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care: Karlee Muller

Outstanding Clinical Performance

  • Class of 1969 Scholarship Award: Michael Procaccini
  • Essilor Student Scholarship: Bhavithra Umapathisivam
  • David A. Huebner, OD, 1986 Scholarship for Teaching Excellence Award: Alicia Hanley
  • Marchon Eyewear Practice Management Award: Amy Uddin
  • New England College of Optometry Clinic Award: Alexandra Gutierrez
  • Robert A. Titelbaum Award: Lenna Walker


  • COVD Award for Excellence in Vision Therapy: Lauren Rineer
  • Ira Schwartz Behavioral Vision Award: Adriana Ferreira
  • Good-Lite Equipment: Sarah Miller

Low Vision

  • Eschenbach Award for Excellence In Low Vision: Alicia Hanley
  • William Feinbloom Low Vision Award: Micaela Gobeille
  • OPTELEC Excellence in Low Vision Award: Hannah Garlick

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 work in our school programs, community programs, community health centers, and VA medical centers.

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722