VSP honors the legacy of Dr. Marvin R. Poston

(PRESS RELEASE) RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – VSP Vision and the National Optometric Association (NOA) are proud to honor five students with the 2022 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award. Named after the pioneering optometrist, the award is presented annually to current members of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) who support Dr. Poston’s commitment to leadership, service and diversity. The recipients were recently honored at the ANO convention and each deserving student received a $4,000 scholarship.

“I am deeply grateful to VSP Vision for recognizing and supporting our future African American optometrists,” said Marlene Bell, Dr. Poston’s daughter. “The Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award recognizes who Dr. Poston was as a leader in the profession. Likewise, the award recognizes our future African-American optometrists who have excelled academically and as student leaders. Each year our students continue to amaze me and I could not be more honored to present these awards in his name.

The 2022 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award recipients:

  • Babirekere Bakama, Class of 2025, Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry
  • Ade Owolewa, Class of 2024, New England College of Optometry
  • Brittany Martin, Class of 2023, University of Alabama School of Optometry
  • Alexis Abernathy, Class of 2023, Illinois College of Optometry
  • Chinelo Onyeador, OD, Class of 2022, Kentucky College of Optometry and Chairman of the Board of NOSA

“It is an honor to be selected as the recipient of the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award,” said Martin. “It is my heart’s desire to be an advocate not only for the field of optometry, but also for African Americans who aspire to become optometrists. I look forward to following in Dr. Poston’s footsteps and practicing in a private practice serving underserved people in rural areas.

In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Dr. Poston’s (1914-2002) accomplishments include becoming the first black American admitted to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, and the first black American licensed to practice on the West Coast. .

Dr. Poston was named Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association in 1961, and the California Optometric Association bestowed the same honor in 1972. It was the first time either association recognized a black American with the laurels of optometrist of the year. As the only black American to co-found VSP Vision in 1955, then named California Vision Services, Dr. Poston was a champion of eye care and eye health and was elected president in 1963.


In 2019, the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Foundation, NOA, and VSP Vision created the Visioning the Future Mentorship Program, a strategy designed to identify African and Black American students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and foster their career and career advancement. in the field of optometry. Last summer Dr. Poston was posthumously inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame and earlier this month his legacy and passion for philanthropic work was commemorated by VSP Vision with an honorary reception.

“The leadership and service of each of these students to the optometric profession exemplifies the values ​​of the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Foundation, NOA and VSP Vision,” said Jarrett Johnson, OD, MPH, Board Member Board of VSP Vision and permanent member of NOA. “I applaud these people who are the next generation of optometrists who will lead the industry with their compassion and resourcefulness.”

Learn more about VSP Vision’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusivity.

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