by Satina Richardson 

Gerald Simon, OD, was named 2022 Optometrist of the Year by the National Optometric Association (NOA).

Masherrill Koonce, OD, class of 1990, nominated him for the award after noticing his impact at the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) since he began leading student recruitment efforts in 2004.

“I nominated Dr. Simon for the work he has done to increase minority enrollment at UABSO,” she said. “The mission of the NOA is ‘advancing the visual health of minority populations.’ One of the objectives to fulfill this mission is to recruit minority students into schools and colleges of optometry. I could not think of a more deserving candidate for this award.”

Simon, the associate dean of student affairs, received the Dean’s Distinguished Service award in 2022 to acknowledge his leadership and service to the community and the optometric profession. He was selected for this award by Dean Kelly Nichols in part due to his successful mentorship of minority students and recognition of the need for diversity in optometry.

 “I am grateful for my career and find purpose in encouraging young minorities to pursue the optometric profession,” he said. “This award confirms that I am making a difference and effectively giving back to a profession that has beautifully impacted my life.”