News: Army awards optometry scholarships
Story by Lisa Simunaci
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The U.S. Army selected three students from the Southern College of Optometry as recipients of the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. A total of eight optometry students nationwide were recently chosen for the highly competitive award.
“To have three of those eight students come from one school is highly unusual and a great honor for us,” said Memphis Army Medical Recruiter Capt. Anne Marie Gildhouse. “It speaks volumes for the school and its program.”
The three will take the oath of office and swear in as second lieutenants in a 12:30 p.m. ceremony Monday at the school.
Trent Gaasch, who is president of the Southern College of Optometry Class of 2016 and was awarded a three-year scholarship, said he was excited to hear about his selection.
“This gives me even more motivation and an added sense of accountability,” Gaasch said. “I’ve always been a driven student, but now I have something even more that I am representing.”
Kyle Anderson and Kelly Bain, both in the class of 2015, were awarded two-year scholarships.
The Army scholarship pays tuition, books and fees as well as a monthly stipend of more than $2,000 a month. While the students continue school, they will hold the lieutenant rank in the Army Reserve. Upon their graduation, they will begin their formal military training and pin on the rank of captain in the active duty Army.
“I would tell those students the sky is the limit,” said Army Capt. Steven Gutierrez who took a similar scholarship path and is now a practicing optometrist at Fort Benning, Ga. “Unlike many of the people I graduated with, I am now basically running my own clinic, my own schedule and my own scope of practice. I definitely didn’t expect that coming straight out of school.”
Along with the optometry program, the F. Edward Herbert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program is available to help students finance their graduate medical, dental, veterinary and clinical psychology degrees, as well as select nursing and specialty degrees. About 500 scholarships are awarded each year. For more information, visit www.healthcare.goarmy.mil.