By Tyra Rocker

Gerald Simon, OD, class of 1985, has received the Alumnus of the Year award presented by the UAB School of Optometry Alumni Association. The award was granted to those who have displayed great achievements in their community, profession and school.

“There is no greater reward than to be honored by your peers,” Simon said.

Simon’s involvement with UABSO dates back to his undergraduate years at UAB. During that time, he worked at the Henry Peters Building for Auxiliary Services until earning a bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology in 1980.

Upon receiving his doctor of optometry degree, Simon spent a decade with Cole Vision Corporation and was recruited to work for UABSO as director of minority recruitment and an associate clinical professor in 2000. Since 2004, in addition to being an associate clinical professor, he has served as director of student affairs.

“He helps support the future of optometry, and fosters the brilliant upcoming minds of vision,” said one of his nominees.

Aside from being an instructor to students and leading recruitment efforts, Simon represents optometry in the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). This program exposes underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students in the Birmingham area to health professions for an educational experience in healthcare.

He has immersed himself in projects with the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) and Community Eye Care (CEC). Through CEC, faculty and optometry students provide eye exams and vision screenings to the underserved.

Simon said that playing a role in the maturation of his students, while also giving back to a society from which he benefits motivates him to remain dedicated to both the school and community.

“I believe we were all put here to serve, so it is only right to do so,” he said.

In addition to his work at the school, Simon occupies a seat in the Department of Ophthalmology and Optometry at Simon-Williamson Clinic. He also is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.