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Optometry and Vision Science Graduation Class of 2017 UNSW

The UNSW Optometry and Vision Science graduation evening, held at Darling Harbour, saw prizes and scholarships awarded to high achieving students.

In mid-June the University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science celebrated the class of 2017 graduates with recognition of their dedication to studies and special acknowledgement of high achieving students for their accomplishments throughout the degree.

Acting Head of School, Assoc. Prof. Isabelle Jalbert addressed graduates with warm congratulations and a reminder that there is immense value in their qualification as they enter “an incredibly rewarding profession”. Assoc. Prof. Jalbert said that over the last few years, enormous changes to the optometry teaching program, and more broadly the university as a whole, have amassed to, “recognise the development of a professional program,” and have been beneficial in providing students with, “not only skills to become great optometrists immediately upon graduating, but also to continue to develop as evidence based practitioners.”

not only skills to become great optometrists immediately upon graduating, but also to continue to develop as evidence based practitioners

“I encourage you to look for opportunities to further enhance your qualifications and share your knowledge with others,” she said to the graduating cohort.

Distinguished guest speaker and UNSW Alumni, Professor Deborah Sweeney, shared her broad experience in the field of optometry with the graduates and emphasised the significance of their continual contribution to the eye heath industry.

Left to right: Anne Zhang, Thalia Lim, Brian Wong, Phoebe Wong, Dr. Vinod Maseedupally and Natasha Knopf

Acknowledging the prevalence of eye health related diseases in Australia, Prof. Sweeney said, “more than 450,000 people are blind or vision impaired and that will grow another 100,000 by the time we reach 2030”. She also noted that, “approximately 90 per cent of blindness and vision impairment in this country for both Indigenous and nonindigenous Australians, when caught early, is preventable and treatable,” hence the reason why a qualification in optometry is highly significant in helping to reduce the number of people suffering from poor eye health.

Prof. Sweeney urged the graduates to continuing doing what they enjoy, take every opportunity that comes their way, and develop and invest in their careers in order to make a difference.

Rachel Kim with Professor Charles McMonnies and Laura Hou


In recognition of the achievements of the 2017 Optometry and Vision Science graduates, prizes and scholarships were awarded to the following students:

Aaron Kan received The Stage 1 Optics Prize [Sponsored by Transitions Optical (Essilor)] for the best performance in VISN1111 and VISN1221;

Paula Gu received The Stage 2 Clinical Optometry Prize (Sponsored by BOC Ophthalmic Instruments Pty Ltd) for the best performance in OPTM2190 and OPTM2291;

Brian Wong received The Stage 3 Ocular Diseases Prize (Sponsored by Essilor Australia Pty Ltd) for the best performance in OPTM3131 and OPTM3231;

Phoebe Wong received The Stage 3 Environmental Optometry and Dispensing Prize (Sponsored by Uvex Safety Australia Ltd) for the best performance in stage 3 Environmental Optometry and Dispensing;

Patricia Tsong received The Cooper Vision Prize in Contact Lenses (Sponsored by CooperVision Australia) for the best performance in OPTM6411 and OPTM6421 (Contact Lens strand) in Stage 1 of the Master of Clinical Optometry. She also received The Optometry NSW/ ACT Prize in Ocular Therapeutics for the best performance in OPTM6413 and OPTM6423 in Stage 1 of the Master of Clinical Optometry;

Kathy Qui received The Designs for Vision Prize for the overall best performance throughout the Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science Program in Primary Care Optometry;

Lisa-Marie Voon received The Neville Fulthorpe Prize for Stage 5 Clinical Optometry (sponsored by Judy Rainsford) for the best performance in Stage 5 Clinical Optometry (OPTM5111 and OPTM5211);

Both Laura Hou and Rachel Kim received The Stage 5 Research Project Prize (sponsored by Optometric Vision Research Foundation) for the best overall mark in the research project in the final year of the Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science program 3952. Miss. Kim also received The ACBO Prize (sponsored by the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists) for the best overall performance throughout the Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science program in Binocular and Children’s Vision;

Professor Emma Johnston, Dean, Faculty of Science with Tyson Xu and Mrs Valerie Whatham

Tyson Xu received The Dr. Andrew Whatham Prize for Stage 5 Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) Clinical Excellence (sponsored by Centre for Eye Health) for the best performance in the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) Stage 5 Clinical Rotation. Mr. Xu also received The Leonard Fine/Luxottica Prize (Sponsored by Luxottica) for the best performance in Stage 5 Ocular Therapeutics;

Awarded to a final year Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science student for excellence in patient management, Nicholas Stanley received The Specsavers Prize for Excellence in Patient Management;

Awarded to a final year or postgraduate student who has achieved clinical excellence and/or has contributed to the practice and knowledge of behavioural/ neuro-developmental optometry, Celine Zhang received The Susan Larter Vision Trust Prize (sponsored by Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists);

Anne Li received The Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science Program Prize (sponsored by Specsavers Optometrists) and the University Medal for the best overall weighted average mark (WAM) in the Bachelor of Optometry Bachelor of Science program 3952;

Both Melinda Toomey and Eva Yuen received The Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics Prize (Sponsored by Luxottica) for the best performance in Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics;

Dr. Ben Ashby with Nicholas Stanley

Awarded to a doctoral student with the best thesis, Preeji Mandathara Sudharman received The Brian Kirby Prize for Research Excellence in Optometry (sponsored by the Brian Kirby Foundation);

Annie Zhang received The David Bard Award in Optometry and Vision Science; and

Thalia Lim received The OVRF-Maki Shiobara Scholarship.

The evening concluded with the graduates celebrating their success ahead of their impending graduation ceremony.