Jennifer (Phuong) Lim, Class of 2018, New England College of Optometry (NECO), was recently selected to receive an “Inspiration Award” from the family of Dr. Larry J. Alexander. This award was given in connection to the newly established Dr. Larry J. Alexander Scholarship for Education. The award is presented by Optometry Cares® – The AOA Foundation, sponsored by Optovue, a former employer of Dr. Alexander.
The AOA explains that “Dr. Alexander believed in ‘paying it forward’ and helping others.” They note that Dr. Alexander’s “impact on optometry is only surpassed by his kindness and his commitment to helping others” and this award recognizes a third year optometric student who exemplifies Dr. Alexander’s legacy. Scholarship applicants were asked to write about the following topic: How have you helped others before and during optometry school and how will your professional optometric practice help the needy in your community?
Although she did not receive the Dr. Larry J. Alexander Scholarship, Jennifer was chosen to receive a special one-time “Inspiration Award” by the Alexander family based on her inspirational essay and lifetime commitment to helping others.
Community service has been a staple in Jennifer’s life since childhood. As teenager, she began tutoring children from 7-15 in math for many years. She also volunteered at the Cancer Society in Ottawa for over 8 years. She explains that before she attended New England College of Optometry, her “favorite volunteer work activities were assisting at a children’s treatment center, tutoring, and raising money for cancer research.” She worked tirelessly at all of these as she navigated her way through high school and college.
Optometry is a perfect balance of challenging work and public service for Ms. Lim. As she has progressed through her academic and clinical work at NECO, she has come to realize quality eye care can dramatically impact an individual’s life.
Fluent in both Vietnamese and Cambodian, she brings her academic knowledge, cultural sensitivity, and language fluency to her clinical work at a community health center. She was particularly touched by a 76 year old Cambodian woman who had never had an eye exam before and lived most of her life with little sight. “My heart sank listening to her story,” she explains. “She’d lived most of her life not being able to see. Something we think is as simple as a pair of glasses could’ve made all the difference in the world for this person. I realized that there are so many people out there who need help. There are people who don’t have access to eye care. There are many who cannot afford eye care.”
She has big plans for helping others throughout her career. “In the future when I have my professional optometric practice,” she begins, “whether it is a community health center or a private practice, I would like to contribute and make a difference in my community and parts of the world that need it most. I will provide care to those who cannot afford it.
“Many people outside of the optometry world don’t understand or know how crucial eye care may be. I would like to raise awareness on ocular topics I believe to be important. A mission trip has always been a dream of mine. With my skills as an optometric provider, I believe that my services will be greatly needed and appreciated in certain parts of the world such as rural areas in Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, etc. I will contribute and I will make a difference in someone’s life.”
We are certain Jennifer (Phuong) Lim, OD ’18 will make a difference in a great many lives throughout her career.
About New England College of Optometry
New England College of Optometry, NECO, is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. For over 120 years, the New England College of Optometry has been educating optometrists and leaders in the field. Originally founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, 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