HOYA, NSU establish Wilma Mankiller optometry scholarship

Image of NSUOCO receiving check for the HOYA Vision Scholarship.HOYA Vision Care is donating $25,000 to NSUOCO over five years to fund the HOYA Vision Care Wilma Mankiller Scholarship for Native American Students. The scholarship will become available for the 2011-12 academic year.

(Tahlequah, OK)--HOYA Vision Care will donate $25,000 to Northeastern State University over the next five years to provide funding for the HOYA Vision Care Wilma Mankiller Scholarship for Native American Students in the Oklahoma College of Optometry.

The scholarship will first be offered for the 2011-12 academic year.

"We are thankful to HOYA for partnering with us in the education of our Native American students," said Dr. Doug Penisten, dean of NSUOCO. "Without HOYA this scholarship wouldn't be possible. Their dedication to optometry education, especially at NSUOCO, is greatly appreciated."

Michael Elton, of HOYA, said the scholarship promotes scholarly diversity and optometric opportunities for an under-served minority.

"When breaking down the nation's optometry students by ethnicity, Native Americans barely register," he said. "Our long-standing relationship with NSU inspired us to get this scholarship together."

The NSU Oklahoma College of Optometry and HOYA supported naming the scholarship for the late Mankiller. Dr. Michelle Welch, associate dean of NSUOCO and director of clinical services, remembered the former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation as a positive, strong leader.

"Mankiller was one of the first to put a priority on providing health care for the tribe," Welch said. "We thank the family for allowing us to honor Wilma Mankiller by naming the scholarship for her."

Jerry Cook, director of community relations and interim director of development, credited Welch and Elton for creating momentum toward forging the scholarship.

"This new program is the result of a good working relationship between Dr. Welch and representatives from HOYA, particularly Michael Elton," he said. "NSUOCO and the Cherokee Nation have a 30-year history and that was a catalyst for this initiative by HOYA. The nation has several clinics in its 14-county area and it has worked with Dr. Welch to ensure that vision care is part of the delivery of health care in the region."

Welch said the HOYA Mankiller scholarship will attract American Indian students who, upon graduation, could return to their communities to provide optometric services.

"NSUOCO has a patient base of Native Americans, and these students will be treating those patients," Welch said. "More Native Americans involved in optometry will result in better eye care for Native Americans across the country."

Applicants for the HOYA Vision Care Wilma Mankiller Scholarship must be American Indian, hold a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average and entering the first or second year of studies at NSUOCO. First-year students will receive preference.

The scholarship amount awarded is based on the money generated by the fund. Half will be awarded for the fall semester and the second half in the spring semester if the student maintains a 3.0 GPA, and performs 10 hours of approved volunteer optometry service each semester.

For more information about the HOYA Mankiller scholarship and other opportunities to donate, contact the NSU Foundation at (918) 458-2143 or visit the NSU Foundation website

Published: 3/1/2011 2:17:32 PM

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