Home News NOA Honors Seven Black Students at 2024 HBCU Visioning the Future Mentorship...

NOA Honors Seven Black Students at 2024 HBCU Visioning the Future Mentorship Ceremony

On Thursday, June 20, seven Black students studying or planning to pursue optometry were honored during the National Optometric Association HBCU Mentorship Program ‘Visioning the Future’ virtual ceremony. The awardees were:

Arlena Thompson Arlena Elizabeth Thompson, student at Xavier University, pre-optometry grant
Aseah Montambault Aseah Nevaeh Montambault, student at Howard University, pre-optometry grant
Jade Christie Jade Desray-Esperanza Christie, student at Florida A&M University, pre-optometry grant
Kaleb Clark Kaleb M. Clark, student at Xavier University, pre-optometry grant
Morgan Bernard Morgan D’Jon Bernard, student at Hampton University, pre-optometry grant
Shafi Muhammad Shafi Lugman Muhammad, student at Jackson State University planning to attend UAB School of Optometry, pre-optometry grant and equipment grant
Starr Mann Starr Mann, student at Howard University planning to attend NOVA School of Optometry, equipment grant

Photo credits: NOA

There to congratulate the winners and inspire them with words of wisdom were Paula Boone, OD, HBCU mentorship program director; Sherrol Reynolds, OD, FAAO, associate professor at NSU College of Optometry and co-director of the program; Marlene Bell, executive director of the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Foundation; Andre Whitehead, OD, NOA executive liaison; Shawn Hobbs, OD, vice president; Edwin Marshall, OD, MS, MPH, FAAO, FNAP, professor emeritus of IUSO, past NOA president, current executive director and co-founder of the mentorship program; Vernon Dela Cruz, director of doctor relations and a part of VSP Vision; Jessetta Cargus, OD; and Chantal Jacques, OD. Dana Shannon, OD, trustee of the NOA, announced the award winners.

“It’s so important that we continue to support our black students to become the optometrists they dream of being,” Dr. Reynolds says. The program has done so since its inception in 2020 by hosting close to 50 students, supporting them with a financial gift, covered travel to the NOA convention and mentorship. The program is sponsored by the Dr. Marvin R. Poston OD Education and Development Donor Advised Foundation, VSP Vision and the National Optometric Association.

Gerald Simon, OD, professor and associate dean for student affairs at UAB School f Optometry, made closing remarks, including his tools for success: courage, teamwork, balance and attitude.

“I am incredibly proud of the students who are part of our program now and in years past,” said Bell. “We want to increase the number of African Americans in the profession. As the Supreme Court continues its effort to turn back the clock, VSP Vision, the NOA and the NOF remain steadfast.”


Learn more about the National Optometric Foundation here.

Read more news from WO here.

Read more student stories from WO here.

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