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Report

UTS Orthoptics Prize and Scholarship Evening 2018

02/07/2018By Lewis Williams PhD
The best of Australia’s next generation of orthoptists were recognised recently at the University of Technology Sydney’s annual Prize and Scholarship Evening. LEWIS WILLIAMS was on hand to relay the highlights.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS)’s Discipline of Orthoptics held its second annual Prize and Scholarship Evening in May at the UTS Aerial Function Centre in Sydney’s Ultimo. Aside from the traditional prizes, UTS also presented two new scholarships at the ceremony for the first time.


In the absence of the discipline’s head, Professor Kathryn Rose, who was unwell, the head of the Graduate School of Health (GSH), Professor Charlie Benrimoj stepped in as the evening’s MC. Orthoptics is part of the GSH, along with Clinical Psychology, Pharmacy, and Physiotherapy.

Benrimoj noted the significantly increased student numbers in the orthoptics course, with almost 130 across both years of the post-graduate course, and reported that all concerned at UTS were pleased with the university’s decision to assume responsibility for the course from its previous host institution.

Those in attendance represented new graduates, prize winners, their parents, academics, scholarship donors, Orthoptics Australia, industry supporters, and representatives of relevant organisations. After a brief address by Benrimoj, the program moved promptly to the awarding of prizes to students who excelled at some or all aspects of the orthoptics course over its two-year duration.

Scholarships

Jennifer Prabhakar
Jennifer Prabhakar

The first of two scholarships awarded on the night was awarded to Ms Eleena Tran, who achieved the highest GPA (grade point average) in the orthoptics course.

Tran, who holds a Bachelor of Medical Science from the University of Sydney, received the scholarship in absentia from its sponsor, ophthalmologist Dr Frank Martin – a leading Sydney paediatric ophthalmologist, who also serves as the Chair of the Orthoptics Industry Advisory Board.

In a note forwarded by Tran, she reported that she was hoping to volunteer for overseas outreach programs to reduce the ocular health inequities present in disadvantaged populations.

Frank Martin
Frank Martin

The second scholarship, sponsored by ophthalmologist Dr Con Moshegov and his George Street (Sydney) Eye Centre, was presented to Ms Jennifer Prabhakar for achieving the highest GPA for a student derived from a rural, regional, or interstate area.

Prabhakar also has a Bachelor of Medical Science, but from Melbourne’s LaTrobe University, and she has moved to Sydney to study orthoptics because she said it was a perfect combination of her favourite aspects of anatomy and pathology, while it also allowed her to help others.

The 2017 Orthoptics Australia Prize

The Orthoptics Australia (OA) prize was awarded to Ms Genevieve Mooney, who achieved the highest marks in Professional Practice subjects (clinical) in the final year of the course. OA president Ms Marion Rivers flew from Melbourne to present the prize.

Marion Rivers and Genevieve Mooney
Marion Rivers and Genevieve Mooney

Rivers is an orthoptist with vast experience in low vision consulting, and is involved as a consultant in the NDIS and a public educator on the issues confronting the blind and low vision communities.

Currently, Mooney works across two practices with special interests in paediatric, neuro, and refractive specialties. She expressed an interest in being part of community outreach programs, including volunteering for overseas service.

The 2017 Lance-Jolly Prize

This prize honours two previous heads of the School of Orthoptics, Ms Patricia Lance MBE, and Mrs Neryla Jolly.

Neryla Jolly and Shanelle Sorbello
Neryla Jolly and Shanelle Sorbello

Jolly was head for many years, involved in orthoptics education for more than 40 years, and is widely published in the areas of driver vision (with and without vision impairments). She was present to award the prize to recipient Ms Shanelle Sorbello, who achieved the highest average mark in the course.

Sorbello is now a PhD candidate in orthopics, as well as a casual orthoptist in private practice and a teacher of first year orthoptics students at UTS. Her special interest in neurological disorders is mirrored in her areas of research.

Surprise guest

Academic star and last year’s Lance-Jolly Prize winner, Ms Aida Zeric, accepted an invitation to attend the evening to relate her experiences since graduating in 2017. Currently, she is working full-time at Westmead Children’s Hospital as an orthoptist.

Aida Zeric
Aida Zeric

Given her academic track record, it is no surprise that she is also involved in mentoring UTS orthoptics students on clinical placement at Westmead.

On behalf of the department and those in attendance, Benrimoj thanked Zeric for her presentation. On behalf of UTS, he then went on to thank the prize donors for their ongoing support, the staff for organising of the event, and the UTS venue and events management system for their efforts to make the night a success.

It is probable that an evolved version of the first two annual events will be held after the UTS orthoptics graduation ceremony in 2019.

 



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