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NECO Students Selected for VSP and AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship

September 23, 2016 - Avani Dave and Michael Merritt, Class of 2017, were recently chosen as the 2016 recipients of the VSP and AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship. The scholarship is funded by VSP Global and the American Optometric Foundation and provides two fourth year students from each optometric college a $4,000 grant. This year, 42 scholarships were awarded to recipients at optometry schools throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Dave and Merritt represent New England College of Optometry, NECO, in this year’s group of recipients.

This award recognizes fourth year students who demonstrate excellence in both academic and clinical performance and a commitment to pursuing the independent practice of optometry upon graduation.  Students must be nominated by the faculty and chosen by a selection committee at their respective schools.

Included in the award is a scholarship for $3,250 and a travel grant for $750 to attend the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) annual meeting in the fall.  This year, recipients will travel to Academy 2016 in Anaheim in November to receive their plaque and travel grant at an awards ceremony.

Both Dave and Merritt (shown in photo with NECO President Clifford Scott, OD '68, MPH) were nominated by the faculty at New England College of Optometry for their excellent work and commitment to private practice throughout their first three years and were chosen by the VSP Scholarship Committee at the College.  

In describing Avani Dave, Dr. Mark O’Donoghue, Clinical Associate Professor at NECO and Clinic Director at New England Eye explains, “The VSP/AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship celebrates the student who is both excellent in the classroom and excellent in the clinic while maintaining a well-rounded and broad-based set of interests. Avani Dave is the epitome of the ideal that is the goal of this scholarship. Excellent in both class and clinic, her kind, caring and insightful manner is an asset to her patients, as well as those of us who have had the privilege of working with her.”

Assistant Clinical Professor at NECO and Attending Optometrist Dr. Beth Harper, brought an understanding of Michael Merritt’s excellence in academics and clinical care to the committee. She explains, “Mike is a bright, hardworking student who puts his patient's needs first. He uses evidence-based medicine to understand conditions further, and regularly demonstrates that he is committed to life long learning. He is on his way to becoming an excellent clinician and our profession is very fortunate to have him as a colleague.”

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