Celebrating the Class of 2024 and recognizing exceptional students at the Spring Awards Ceremony

Friday, June 14, 2024
Class of 2024

It’s that time of year again – time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and hard work of the graduating class as they head off to their next phase of life.  Congratulations to the Class of 2024! The staff and faculty at the School of Optometry and Vision Science are immensely proud of you and your accomplishments. We can’t wait to see you make strides in the profession and hear all about your accomplishments in the coming years. 

On June 14, 2024, the School awarded 95 Doctor of Optometry degrees and five vision science graduate degrees - three master’s and two doctoral.  

Among the Doctor of Optometry degrees, one was awarded posthumously to Sophia Sy, who sadly passed away last year and was a part of the Class of 2024. Sy made a lasting impact on her friends, colleagues and the optometry community with her diligence, kindness and compassion. Her presence is deeply missed by the School and all who knew her. In Sy’s memory, a tree was recently planted outside the Student Commons .  

Framed photo of Sophia beside a guest book and roses

Outstanding students

In conjunction with the convocation festivities, the School would also like to recognize outstanding students within the graduating class with the following awards: 

  • College of Optometrists of Ontario General Proficiency Award: Dr. Shayna Timmerman 

Awarded to the student with the highest academic standing. 

  • The J.C. Memorial Prize for Optometry: Dr. Erin Leigh Fortney 

Awarded to the student who ranked highest in the clinical optometry courses. 

  • Dr. Irving Baker Excellence in Clinical Optometry Scholarship: Dr. Tanvir Singh Sandhu 

This award was established by the College of Optometrists of Ontario to recognize Dr. Baker's significant contribution to the public of Ontario through the guidance and development of the profession of optometry. 

  • Canadian Association of Optometrists Leadership Award: Dr. Amy Yamei Gu 

Recognizes professionalism and effective leadership in student organizations. 

  • Ontario Association of Optometrists Award for Excellence in Patient Management: Dr. Emily Marie Lant 

Awarded for professionalism and excellence in patient care.  

  • Prize for Academic Excellence in Ocular Pharmacology: Dr. Khushvir Saran 

Honours a student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in ocular pharmacology.  

  • A.W. Cole Award for Clinical Excellence: Dr. Kaitlin Pilarski 

Awarded for outstanding clinical proficiency. 

  • FYidoctors Clinical Leadership Award: Dr. Felicia Stefanie Binotto 

Awarded to a student who has shown excellence and leadership in providing patient care in the clinic and during externships. The recipient will have expressed shared values with FYi’s business model, have excelled in clinical education, and have shown potential to be a leader in the profession of optometry.  

  • O.S.I. Vision Entrepreneur Award: Dr. Jerry Li 

Presented to a student who has demonstrated competent leadership in the areas of professionalism, communication, and academic excellence. 

  • Alcon Award for Excellence in Contact Lenses: Dr. Onkarpreet Araich 

Presented to the top student overall in both academics and clinical skills in contact lenses. 

  • AAOF Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care: Dr. Ashley Berry 

Recognizes excellence in contact lens patient care. 

  • CooperVision Contact Lens Award: Dr. Laura Marno 

Awarded for excellence in contact lens care. 

  • Dr. Robert B. Mandell GP Clinical Excellence Award: Dr. Erin Runté  

Presented in recognition of excellence in contact lens care. 

  • COVD Award for Excellence in Vision Therapy: Dr. Christy Lau 

Awarded to a student who has demonstrated strong interest and clinical skills in the area of vision therapy. 

  • Eschenbach Low Vision Student Award: Dr. Bhaveshkumar Mistry 

Recognizes the skills and achievements of a student who has shown aptitude and interest in the field of low vision. 

  • William Feinbloom Low Vision Award: Dr. Onkarpreet Araich 

Awarded to a student who has shown excellence in low vision care. 

  • Ida Fisher Award for Clinical Excellence in Low Vision: Dr. Courtney Anne Esther Symington 

Awarded to help support an outstanding student as they continue to gain skills and experience in the delivery to patients with low vision. 

  • Good-Lite Pediatric Optometry Award: Dr. Paraniharan Ragu 

Given to a student who demonstrated outstanding clinical aptitude and interest in pediatric and special needs optometry. 

  • Dr. Stelios Nikolakakis Award for Clinical Excellence in Vision Therapy: Dr. Judit Gaushiga Antonyrajan 

Awarded for excellence in vision therapy. 

  • Alcon Award for Excellence in Ocular Health: Dr. Dhruvi Patel 

Presented to the top student overall in both academics and clinical skills in ocular health. 

  • Dr. John G. Flanagan Award for Academic and Clinical Excellence in Glaucoma: Dr. Joanne Jin 

Given to a student who has excelled academically and demonstrated excellence in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with glaucoma during their clinical training. 

  • Dr. Michael Gutwein Memorial Award: Dr. Amru Abou-Zidan 

Awarded to a student who has consistently reminded classmates that the optometry program involves more than just academics. 

  • Dr. Margaret Hansen Des Groseilliers Award: Dr. Aisa Dobie 

Presented to an optometry student who demonstrates exceptional leadership skills. 

  • The Vinko and Iva Juricic Award for Perseverance: Dr. Sheriden Maria Goodmanson 

Honours a student who has overcome challenges during their optometry studies. 

  • Rachel Ann Cecelia Higgins Memorial Award: Dr. Melanie Leung 

Honours a student who has demonstrated undefeatable courage, strength, perseverance and determination, while confronting the significant challenges in their lives.  

  • Dr. Karen Tompa Nowy Memorial Award: Dr. Cara Leigh Madison DiMarco 

Awarded to a student who has shown exceptional care and concern for their patients, advocated for advanced eye care treatments and/or has taken steps to improve the overall health and well-being of their patients during the clinical education portion of the optometry program. 

To learn more about an award, please see the full list of award descriptions

Outstanding staff and faculty

Continuing with the theme of recognizing outstanding individuals, the University of Waterloo Optometry Student Society also took the time to acknowledge a few staff and faculty that went above and beyond this past year with the following awards: 

  • Distinguished Instructor Award: Dr. Angela Kyveris 

  • Distinguished Clinical Instructor Award: Dr. Olivia Ricci 

  • Distinguished Lab Instructor Award: Dr. Varadharajan Jayakumar 

  • Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award: Dr. Mariko Hirano 

  • Administrative Assistant Award: Lucy Le