Scholarships

All scholarship applications are due by February 1st.  Scholarship recipients will be recognized during the awards luncheon at the spring convention.  There are three scholarships offered by the Arkansas Optometric Association.

Dr. George A. Haas Scholarship given by the Arkansas Eye Associates

Dr. William H. Townsend Scholarship

Dr. Milton Webb Optometric Leadership and Service Scholarship

Dr. George A. Haas Scholarship given by the Arkansas Eye Associates (AEA)

2020 Dr. George A. Haas Scholarship Recipient, Collin Simmons, SCO

Collin Simmons is a third-generation optometry student at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. He is an upcoming third year student and plans to graduate in May of 2022. He serves student ambassador for the class of 2022 and incoming president for the Arkansas State Club at SCO. Upon graduation, he looks forward to returning to Arkansas and serving the people of his community alongside his family.

 

The Arkansas Eye Associates scholarship will be awarded to the Southern College of Optometry student who shares Dr. Haas' passion for optometry and community service.  The applicant must demonstrate commitment to the profession of optometry, academic achievement, leadership within Southern College of Optometry, and dedication to community service.  Applicants will be subject to a personal interview.

 Criteria:

- Be an Arkansas resident and planning to practice in Arkansas after graduation from Southern College of Optometry.

- Be a full-time 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year student currently attending Southern College of Optometry.

- Have a grade point average of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale)

- Have verifiable leadership experience and be a member of the Arkansas Optometric Student Association and the American Optometric Student Association.

Click here for the Haas Scholarship Application.

Dr. George A. Haas exemplified leadership and service in optometry in Arkansas.  During his over 45 years of practice, he was a driving force for progress in the legislative arena and in expanding the scope of practice for optometry. He was an inspiration for many optometrists to become involved in areas of service to their profession. 

Dr. Haas graduated from Southern College of Optometry in 1970 and then served as an optometrist in the United States Navy for two years.  He returned to his home state of Arkansas and established practices in North Little Rock and later in Sherwood and Cabot.  He helped develop programs to provide services to patients unable to afford eye care and began vision screening programs for local schools.

Dr. Haas is most known for his work in helping to pass legislation to enhance the scope of practice of optometry and improving access to eye care.  He was a member of the Board of the Arkansas Optometric Association and served as President in 1977. He assumed leadership of the Legal-Legislative Committee in 1978 where he emphasized strong grassroots involvement in the political process.  Under his direction, legislation was passed that dramatically changed optometry in the state.  This included both passing diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical agents and the optometric physician legislation.  He shared his expertise on a regional and national level as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Council of Optometry and on the Statutory Definition, Federal Relations, and State Legislative Affairs Committees of the American Optometric Association.   

The Arkansas Optometric Association has honored Dr. Haas for his many contributions to the profession.  He received the OD of the Year Award in 1985 and 1995.   He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Award, the Special Service Award, the Lifetime of Excellence Award, and the prestigious Myron Shofner Award of Excellence for his legislative work.  He was also named Optometrist of the South by SECO in 1996.

He served optometry in many other ways.  By creating Arkansas Eye Associates (AEA), he improved access to optometric care and secured contracts to provide access to care by optometrists to over 600,000 patients.  He served many years on the Arkansas State Board of Optometry as well as the Arkansas State Board of Dispensing Opticians.  He was a very active member of his community and enjoyed spending time with his wife, Susan, his three children and nine grandchildren.  His tireless work on behalf of the profession changed the practice of optometry in immeasurable ways.  His legacy of leadership and service will live on to inspire future generations of optometrists to be active in the legislative process and to continue to advance optometry in Arkansas.

You will need to attach the following further in the application:

        -Personal Statement

        -Two letters of recommendation

        -Resume

        -Official Transcript

Personal Statement

Please submit a personal statement highlighting the following:

1.  List three reasons why you want to practice optometry

2.  Your involvement in professional, community, extracurricular activities, or events that have displayed your commitment and leadership to serving humanity and demonstrating interest in others.

3.  How you hope to positively impact the profession of Arkansas optometry in the future

4.  What role you think politics plays/does not play in optometry

Click here for the Haas Scholarship Application.

Dr. William H. Townsend Scholarship

2020 Dr. William Townsend Scholarship Recipient 
 

Alexandra Turner is a 2017 graduate of Arkansas Tech University. She currently lives in Marion, Arkansas with her husband, Brandon Turner, and attends Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, where she is a second-year student. Alexandra is active in the Arkansas State Club, Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society, and the Optometric Private Practice Club at SCO. She is excited to complete her optometric education and return to the area to serve her community.

 

The Arkansas Optometric Association annually awards a $1500 scholarship to one Arkansas optometry student attending an accredited college of optometry. This scholarship was established in memory of the late Dr. William H. Townsend, in recognition of his lifetime of service to the profession of optometry. Click here for the Townsend Scholarship.

Dr. Townsend was born July 30, 1914, in West Point, Mississippi, but grew up on a farm in Earle, Arkansas. He was the oldest of eleven children. Unable to afford college after high school, he enlisted in U.S. Army during World War II. During his tour of duty, he studied at Nottingham University in England. After the war, he was a student at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. He then studied pre-medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. One of his college professors there was an optometrist who encouraged him to enter the profession. He graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Optometry in 1950. Later that year, Dr. Townsend opened an optometric clinic in Little Rock. He was the first African-American to be licensed to practice optometry in the state of Arkansas. He wife stated that before he began his practice, black residents had to go to places where they had to sort through pair after pair of glasses until they found one that they were able to see with. Dr. Townsend practiced in Little Rock for 50 years before retiring. He was also an important figure in Arkansas history and politics. During the 1950s, he was one of the founding members of the Council of Human Relations and served as its president. This group was a catalyst in the desegregation of public schools and businesses in the state. Another organization, the Council on Community Affairs (COCA), helped facilitate the peaceful desegregation of public facilities in Little Rock. COCA was formed in 1961 by a group of black medical professionals, including Dr. Townsend. This group emerged from the events of the Freedom Riders protest of the segregation of interstate transit facilities in Arkansas. COCA successfully sued the city of Little Rock to gain access to all “public parks, recreational facilities, Joseph T. Robinson Auditorium, and all other public facilities.” During the 1960s Dr. Townsend participated in sit-ins at restaurants that refused to serve blacks. “They went back every day until they got service,” his wife said. “It was very important to him, because at the time our oldest daughter was in kindergarten. ” In 1972, Dr. Townsend was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives as one of the first African Americans to be elected since the 1890s. He served District 65 for twenty four years and was the author of a number of bills. He served as vice-chairman on the Education Committee and was the first African American to chair the Aging and Legislative Affairs Committee. As a member of the legislature, Dr. Townsend consistently championed legislation to improve the visual welfare of the people of his state. As a member of the Arkansas Optometric Association, he served on the Board of Directors and was named Optometrist of the Year in 1981. Although he stood only 5 feet 3 inches tall, Dr. Townsend was a large figure in optometry in Arkansas. He died on September 15, 2005, at the age of 91.

The applicant must be:

  • An Arkansas resident
  • Attending an accredited college of optometry
  • Entering 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of study
  • In good academic standing
  • A member of the Arkansas Optometric Student Association and the American Optometric Student Association

Submit the following information:

  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • Permanent address
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • College of Optometry
  • Year of graduation
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Hometown
  • Undergraduate school and degree
  • College financial aid contact information
  • Essay

The essay should be between 200- 500 words on the following topic: “I believe that _________ will be most helpful to me in a professional optometric practice.” The essay will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Appropriate length
  • Topic statement
  • Critical thinking
  • Organization
  • Originality and creativity
  • Grammar, punctuation, spelling and word choice.

Click here for the Townsend Scholarship.

Dr. Milton Webb Optometric Leadership and Service Scholarship

2020 Dr. Milton Webb Optometric Leadership & Service Scholarship Recipient

Andrew Murphy  was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was first inspired to become an Optometrist when working as an Ophthalmic Technician at McDonald Eye Associates when he realized how big of an impact that they made in patients’ lives. He says, “I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of."  He says that Southern College of Optometry has surpassed his expectations in preparing me for his future in Optometry and is grateful for friends, family, and the great state of Arkansas for helping him achieve his goals.

 

The Arkansas Optometric Association annually awards a $1500 scholarship to one Arkansas optometry student attending an accredited college of optometry. This scholarship was established in memory of the late Dr. Milton Webb, with a gift from his wife’s estate, in recognition of his lifetime of service to the profession of optometry. Click here for the application. 

The applicant must be:

  • An Arkansas resident
  • Attending an accredited college of optometry
  • Entering 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of study
  • In good academic standing
  • A member of the Arkansas Optometric Student Association and the American Optometric Student Association

Submit the following information:

  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • Permanent address
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • College of Optometry
  • Year of graduation
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Hometown
  • Undergraduate school and degree
  • College financial aid contact information
  • Essay
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • one affiliated with school
    • one from a service organization
  • If applicable, a short paragraph responding to the question: “Are there unique or unusual circumstances that have a financial or familial impact on your optometric education?”

The essay should be between 200-500 words answering ONE of the following questions: “How do you anticipate serving your community as an optometric physician?” OR “What benefit have you received through your leadership and service opportunities as an optometric student?” The essay will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Appropriate length
  • Topic statement
  • Critical thinking
  • Organization
  • Originality and creativity
  • Grammar, punctuation, spelling and word choice.

Click here for the Webb Scholarship Application.