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Zenni Optical announces nationwide Eye Care Access Scholarship winners


Current optometry students Liliana Gonzalez, Emmanuel Nwagha, Anna Reard, Grace A Skarohlid, and Trevor Stiede have each been selected to receive a $2,500 scholarship from the online eyewear retailer.

Hand holding a clear piggy bank with coins inside and wearing a grad cap Image Credit: AdobeStock/BillionPhotos.com

Image Credit: AdobeStock/BillionPhotos.com

A handful of lucky students across the nation have received Zenni Optical’s 2023 Eye Care Access Scholarship to further their growth in the optometry profession.

The online eyewear retailer stated in a news release that 5 students, Liliana Gonzalez, Emmanuel Nwagha, Anna Reard, Grace A Skarohlid, and Trevor Stiede, are slated to receive a $2,500 scholarship, as well as a chance to network through the company and its past scholarship recipients. All recipients are currently enrolled in US Optometry Schools.1

“With the growing demand for eye care in the US, fostering the next generation of optometrists is crucial," said Mori Goodyear, OD, ABOC, Ophthalmic/Optical Program Manager at Zenni Optical in the news release. "These scholarship recipients exemplify Zenni's mission that everyone deserves access to eye care. We are honored to support these students on their path to becoming optometrists and providing care to the underserved in their respective communities."

The Zenni Eye Care Access Scholarship is in its second year and intends to provide opportunities to shine a light on a growing need for optometrists in the US. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, verified applicants to accredited schools and colleges of optometry have plateaued within the past decade. The ratio of applicants to attendees have also decreased, dropping from 1.53 to 1.39 between 2010 and 2018.2 To follow this national trend, optometric programs have decreased their number of enrollees. However, it is estimated that the demand for optometrists will expand 9% from 2022 to 2032.3

After presenting the scholarship awards at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO), Sophia Moh, OD, ABOC, Optical Program Manager at Zenni Optical, applauded the school’s resources and its dedication to its students in a news release. “A perfect blend of cutting-edge technology, innovative design, and a deep commitment to eye care. The thoughtful construction and integration of advanced teaching tools, such as the VR Lab, exemplify the college's dedication to preparing future optometrists with the latest techniques for unparalleled clinical training," Moh said.

Listed below are this year’s recipients:

  • Gonzalez is a student at the Indiana College of Optometry in Bloomington, Indiana. Her childhood experiences growing up in a community that experienced difficulties accessing health care due to cultural and language barriers remains an inspiration for her to pursue optometry. Gonzales is entering the field with the goal to improve quality of patient care for Latino patients.1
  • Nwagha is a student at Western University College of Optometry in Pomona, California. He completed his Doctor of Optometry degree in Nigeria, where he practices for six years. There, Nwagha witnessed the lack of access to eye care due to shortage of professionals and the high cost of care. He is pursuing a Doctor of Optometry in the US with the intent to continue providing care for underserved and low-income patients.1
  • Reard is a student at Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Oregon. Growing up in a rural community in West Central Minnesota, she noticed in her work as a reading tutor that many young students she worked with were negatively impacted academically due to vision impairments. After graduating, Reard plans to improve access to primary care optometry in her hometown.1
  • Skarohlid is a student at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry in Pikeville, Kentucky. She is also involved with the National Optometric Student Association. Skarohlid’s goal is to advance vision care quality for minority populations in her community.1
  • Stiede is a student at Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry in Glendale, Arizona. His time on a humanitarian mission in the Andes Mountain of Peru played an impactful role in pursuing optometry. Stiede detailed the lack of health care that local indigenous communities faced, with both children and adults experiencing eye abnormalities that may have been corrected with proper vision care. As an optometrist, Stiede aims to lead optometry mission trips.1

To learn more information on the Zenni Eye and its Care Access Scholarship, visit the company's website.


  1. Zenni Optical announces 2023 Eye Care Access scholarship winners. Zenni Blog. Press Release. Published January 11,2024. Accessed January 11, 2024. https://www.zennioptical.com/blog/zenni-optical-announces-2023-eye-care-access-scholarship-winners/
  2. Zadnik K, Reich LN. An analysis of the optometric applicant pool relative to matriculants. Optom Vis Sci. 2019;96(9):637-646. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001424
  3. Optometrists: occupational outlook handbook. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Updated September 6, 2023. Accessed January 11,2024. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm
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