Jonathan Davis and Haley HixonThe American Academy of Optometry Foundation named Jonathan Davis and Haley Hixon, both fourth-year students at the UAB School of Optometry, 2017 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients.

The Foundation annually selects students from each North American college or school of optometry based on submission by each institution. Davis and Hixon are among 44 top-performing optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada who will receive awards totaling nearly $200,000.

The scholarships Davis and Hixon are receiving include travel grants to participate in the American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting, which was held in October in Chicago. Davis and Hixon were recognized alongside other recipients at a special reception at the meeting.

Paul BrownThe American Academy of Optometry Foundation has named Paul Brown, a third-year student at the UAB School of Optometry, a recipient of the 2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision J. Pat Cummings Scholarship.

The Foundation awards the scholarship annually to a second- or third-year optometry student at each North American school or college of optometry who best demonstrates the ideal eye care standards of practice, achievement in both academic performance and extra-curricular activities, and participation with other professional pursuits such as involvement with patients through internships, community service and volunteer activities.

Brown received a $1,000 scholarship and a personalized plaque as part of the award, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and named after a leader in optometry who died in a 2009 plane crash.

Cummings was known for his volunteerism and desire to make a positive impact in eye care. He was one of the first supporters of InfantSEE, a program that provides no-cost eye examinations for children during the first year of life.

“Pat Cummings was an exemplary clinician and leader,” says Kelly K. Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., dean of the School of Optometry. “He was thoughtful, smart, and kind, and Paul is a reflection of that.”

kirchmerAfter third-year optometry student Shannon Kirchmer achieved her longime goal of running her first marathon — the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama this past February — she realized she was just two minutes shy of qualifying for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

“I knew I could do it,” she says.

With her new goal of competing in the world’s oldest annual marathon, she sought the help of a coach through a Birmingham running group to help her with a training plan.

On Nov. 4, she ran a personal record of 3:20:25 (a 7:39 mile pace) in the CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon — qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.

Training for marathons while in optometry school has been a challenge, but one Kirchmer took a day at a time.


“At times it was hard to get in 10, then 12, then 14 miles before school as my training plan progressed,” she says. “Those were some mentally and physically exhausting days.”

But the challenge also had its benefits.

Ten students at the UAB School of Optometry have earned the title of Student Fellow with the American Academy of Optometry.

The Student Fellowship program offered by the Academy encourages students to experience the Academy’s annual meeting in the hopes it will stimulate improved integration of all opportunities offered at the meeting, encourage future involvement and persuade students to become future fellows.

The following students completed the program requirements at this year’s annual meeting, which was held Oct. 11-14 in Chicago: