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Awards for Excellence Beyond Optometry Winners… and They Know it

The winners of the 2013 Alcon Awards for Excellence Beyond Optometry scholarships have been granted to optometry students in Australia who, in addition to excellence in academic achievement, have excelled in their extracurricular activities.

Launched by Alcon Australia Visioncare (previously CIBA Vision) in 2010, the annual award of AU$3,000 is awarded to a student in recognition of excellence in academic achievement as well as in an area beyond the books, an all-round achiever. The award is open to students entering their final year of undergraduate study in optometry. The winner of the Alcon award is determined by representatives from the University’s School of Optometry and Mark Cushway, editor of mivision ophthalmic journal.

Winners of this year’s awards in recognition of excellence in academic achievement as well as their extracurricular activity were:

Leslie Wong, who became an unexpected internet sensation when his YouTube videos – parodying the hit songs ‘Party Rock Anthem’ and ‘Sexy and I Know It’ – went viral.

Ingrid Diep invests her spare time in a range of voluntary community and environmental initiatives.

And then there’s mature age student, 28-year-old Christopher Rodgers who manages to juggle his studies with his role as a youth support worker, tutor and his ambitions to represent Australia at the 2016 Olympics.

Two Million Views

Leslie Wong, who has just finished his optometry degree at the University of New South Wales, was having fun with some friends when they made a parody of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ titled ‘Study Hard Anthem’, The humorous take on student life was initially shared on Facebook, but developed a life of its own, achieving more than 100,000 views in a week and subsequently developed a cult following now with more than two million views on YouTube.

The video had an unexpected financial benefit with the group commissioned to do paid sequels – including ‘Successful and I Know It’, a parody of another LFMAO hit ‘Sexy and I Know It’. There’s also a range of T-shirts and iTunes downloads.

Social Conscience

Melbourne University’s Ingrid Diep is heavily involved as a volunteer youth worker, participating in charity run camps for socially and financially disadvantaged children. The camps are an opportunity for these children to escape from their stressful home life and rub shoulders with young adults who are successful role models – just like Ingrid.

A regular on the Dean’s Honour List, Ingrid also tutors high school students, and was involved in a young entrepreneur program that piloted an environmentally friendly home-composting service.

Support Worker

The third award winner, Christopher Rodgers, relishes his role as a support worker for young men with physical and psychological disabilities. He’s also using his previous training as a registered nurse to tutor nursing students.

Not surprisingly, these dual roles and the demands of his optometry degree, have put his other passion – archery – on the back burner for a while. But Chris, who has represented Australia at National and World Titles, now has plans to return to the sport he loves… eyeing off a spot in the Australian Archery team for the 2016 Olympics.

Chris described himself as “gobsmacked”, while Ingrid said she was “left speechless” by her award win. “This is incredible. I wasn’t expecting something so exciting so soon after the end of exams,” she said.

Senior Lecturer Anthea Cochrane, from the Department of Optometry & Vision Science at the University of Melbourne, said the award was particularly special because it acknowledged those students who went “beyond the call of duty”.

“Optometry is not an easy course, yet somehow they (the winners) manage to do all this other stuff as well,” Ms. Cochrane said.

Lauren Richard, Professional Affairs Manager at Alcon said, “Alcon is proud to support these students with an award that recognises their undergraduate achievements as they transition into the workplace. These deserving students look set to become leaders in their field as well as in the community.”

Leslie’s videos can be found on the YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/GZeeProductions/