Family Legacy Alumni standing together at UAB's Optometry 2017 Graduate Ceremony

When the moment came for Stephanie Ross, O.D., to walk to the front of the stage and receive her doctoral hood at the UAB School of Optometry’s Convocation and Hooding Ceremony on May 12, the two faculty members performing the ceremonial hoodings stepped aside, and Ross’s parents stepped forward.

As optometrists and alumni of the School of Optometry, David Ross, O.D., and Donna Ross, O.D., were invited to place the commemorative hood over their daughter’s head. As they did so, they each wore a white lapel pin depicting a tree with roots. Stephanie Ross had one to match.

The pins signfied their shared alma mater, and they received them the night before the convocation when they joined four other families at the School of Optometry's 2017 Graduate Awards Ceremony as the inaugural inductees into the Family Legacy Alumni group. The group, which was formed this year by Kelly K. Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., dean of the School of Optometry, recognizes 19 families overall whose children have also graduated from the school.

“This creates a legacy both within our school and in the profession,” said Nichols at the Graduate Awards Ceremony, which was held at the Hill Student Center on the UAB campus.

Each parent and child are being given a pin, and on the pin is an image of a tree with roots, a symbol of family and connection to optometry,” Nichols explained.

Donna Ross and David Ross met while they were students at the School of Optometry. David Ross graduated in 1983, and Donna Ross graduated a year later.

Stephanie Ross says she wanted to pursue optometry after a childhood spent listening to her parents talk about their days caring for patients at the dinner table and watching them interact with patients both in their office and in the community.

“My parents always prided themselves on providing medically-oriented care, and I wanted to do the same,” she says. “I felt like UAB’s curriculum catered to this style of practice. It was definitely a bonus that my parents had been there before me. I had several professors who taught my parents or were in school with my parents.”

Stephanie Ross will now join her father at his practice, Ross Eyecare Group in Atlanta, Georgia.

David Ross says that both he and Donna Ross were honored to participate in the convocation and hooding ceremony.

"That was very meaningful," he said. “We feel that the education and clinical experience we received at the UAB School of Optometry was excellent and we are happy that our daughter benefitted from that same, updated education. We are very proud of our profession and proud of our daughter for embracing it as her own."

Members of the Family Legacy Alumni Group:

Spencer Boozer (2017) and Bryan Boozer (1983)

Chelsea Chandler (2017) and David Chandler (1983)

Stephanie Ross (2017), David Ross (1983) and Donna Ross (1984)

Betsy Stevenson (2017) and Chuck Stevenson (1988)

Lea Vaught (2017) and James Vaught (1983)

Megan Sandlin (2016) and Rob Sandlin (1985)

Matt Davis (2013) and Rick Davis (1983)

Daniel Gaffney (2013), Jeremy Gaffney (2011) and Barry Gaffney (1978)

Lindsey Johnson Marshburn (2013) and David Johnson (1986)

Tyler McFaden (2013) and Gavin McFaden (1974)

Dylan Vaught (2012) and James Vaught (1983)

Tyler Mayes (2011) and Freddie Mayes (1979)

Laura Benevides Osmer (2009) and Hernana Benavides (1976)

Matt Habel (2007) and Marty Habel (1978)

Wesley Mayes (2007) and Freddie Mayes (1979)

Kristin Sullins (2007) and Bill Sullins (1976)

Dawn Dachelet Wilczek (2003) and Ron Dachelet (1973)

Audrey Brazeal Wood (2004) and Charles Brazeal (1977)

Kristian Edlund (1999) and George Edlund (1986)

Pin for Alumni that says UAB School of Optometry Family Legacy Alumni with an image of the tree in the middle