The University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science (UNSW SOVS) class of 2020 graduates have been recognised with awards presented to students for their academic and social achievements at the annual prize-giving.
Following on from the graduation ceremony, Professor Lisa Keay, Head of School, opened the night by describing the cohort as a an “incredibly high calibre graduating class” who remained determined to continue their studies and complete their degree despite the difficult circumstances of the past year.
“I’m confident that you have the foundation and necessary training to excel as clinicians and clinician scientists, to work in the health care sector and make a tremendous difference to the lives of others,” said Prof Keay.
Vlado Perkovic, Dean of the UNSW Faculty of Medicine and Health, spoke of the importance of SOVS role at the University and beyond. Referring to the graduates as important “foot soldiers in the fight to improve health,” Mr Perkovic acknowledged their important contribution to eye care, not only in their own community but to communities around the world.
Also congratulating the graduates, Dr Maria Markoulli, Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate Research Coordinator, delivered a keynote address emphasising the importance of resilience and adaption in a constantly changing industry.
In a nod towards the future of eye care, and in referencing the Optometry 2040 Project, Dr Markoulli said, “as optometrists we will be moving towards becoming knowledge based translators for our patients, facilitated by technologies such as app-based monitoring, disease monitoring, wearable technology as well as smart contact lenses.”
This year, the mivision Prize in Recognition of Excellence in Social Engagement was awarded to Judy Nam for demonstrating excellence in communication, advocacy and in promoting eye care to the community and other professions.
As part of her participation in the student-run Rural Allied Health and Medical Society, Ms Nam has met with other medical and health students to promote eye care and highlight the importance of optometry.
“I find it really important to promote eye care to other health professionals because patient care is more of a holistic model. You want to be in communication with the other health practitioners and we do a lot of comanagement within optometry, with GPs and ophthalmology,” Ms Nam told mivision.
Ms Nam also volunteers with St John Ambulance through which she was involved in a social media campaign aimed at prompting people to go out and get an eye test.
“Through university we get taught about it a lot but beyond that many people don’t understand how important and easy it is to go and get an eye test. Promoting awareness of eye health to engage a wider audience can help prevent further vision complications down the track.”
Beyond her studies, Ms Nam plans to stay engaged with community health and become more involved in rural areas where optometry services are often lacking. Following the prize-giving evening, trips to Bourke and Lightening Ridge in far-north NSW are set to mark the first step in what she hopes will be more rural placements.
“I’m hoping to be able to participate in the visiting optometrist scheme to provide eye care to these rural/remote communities once I graduate,” said Ms Nam.
Other award recipients recognised on the night include:
The Stage 1 Optics Prize, Transitions Optical (Essilor) – Rosanna Lee,
The Stage 2 Clinical Optometry Prize, BOC Instruments – Reynard Wee Cheng Tay,
The Stage 3 Ocular Diseases Prize, Essilor – Kylie Zhang,
The Stage 3 Environmental Optometry and Dispensing Prize, UVEX Safety, Australia & New Zealand – Lina Shen,
The CooperVision Prize in Contact Lenses, CooperVision Australia – Aaron Tse,
The Optometry NSW/ACT Prize in Ocular Therapeautics, Optometrists Association Australia NSW/ACT – Louisa Deng,
The ACBO Prize in Binocular and Children’s Vision, The Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists – Alanah Luu,
The Dr Andrew Whatham Prize for Stage 5 CFEH Clinical Excellence, Ms Val Whatham and the Centre for Eye Health – Danny Lee,
The Designs for Vision Prize, Designs for Vision – Saya Hiidome,
The Research Project Prize in Master of Clinical Optometry, Optometric Vision Research Foundation – Brian Peng,
The Specsavers Award for Excellence in patient Management, Specsavers – Amanda Duffy,
The Specsavers Prize for overall excellence in the Bachelor of Vision Science Master of Clinical Optometry Program, Specsavers – Paula Gu, and
The Brian Kirby Prize for Research Excellence in Optometry, The Brian Kirby Foundation- Mahjabeen Khan.
The evening concluded with recognition of the UNSW SOVS staff and the ongoing support of donors.