Optometry students compete for bursary

Judges reveal the benefits and what they are looking for in successful candidates who will join a VAO assignment abroad in 2016

Optometry students compete for bursary
Seven optometry students were interviewed last week (3 December) for a chance to join a Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) assignment in summer 2016.

The bursaries are made available by the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and the Wiseman Memorial Fund. They offer second-year optometry students the chance to work in Africa through grants administered by the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO).

The three highly sought-after bursaries are allocated following an application and interview process held at the FODO head office in London.

In the 18 years that the bursary scheme has been running, 42 students have been able to volunteer on VAO assignments abroad as a result of the awards.

The judges from the IAMF interview panel, Lynda Oliver, Judith Trigg and Brian Keefe (pictured left to right) have shared the benefits of the bursaries and what it is that makes a successful bursary candidate.

IAMF trustee Mr Keefe said: “The opportunity for second-year students to attend a Vision Aid Overseas project in Africa will not only improve their optical knowledge, but their knowledge of life itself.”

He added: “We are looking for students who would truly benefit from the experience. The ability to work within a team, considering you will spend all day, every day for two weeks together, is fundamental.”

Fellow IAMF judge, Ms Trigg, professional volunteer coordinator at VAO, added: “This really is a fantastic opportunity for students to work alongside professional optical volunteers on an assignment in Zambia.

“All of the students who have been selected as bursary winners have always been adaptable, good team players and keen to work hard and learn.”

IAMF trustee, Ms Oliver, concluded: “What a pleasure to meet with optometry students from all over the country, and be able to offer them a life-enhancing opportunity that will no doubt stay with them for the rest of their optical career.”

The successful candidates for the IAMF bursary and The Wiseman Memorial Fund bursary are due to be announced next week.

To find out more about the IAMF bursary, visit the VAO website.