PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Last year, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) began a grant program to help remove financial barriers and increase diversity in the optometry profession. Since the program’s implementation in August 2020, KYCO has covered the cost of the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) for 43 potential optometry students, many of whom are attending optometry schools across the country this fall.
The success of the grant program caught the attention of the American Optometric Association (AOA) during a campus visit from the AOA president. Since then, the KYCO model has been adopted by the AOA and is being showcased on a national platform.
KYCO Assistant Dean Josephine Ibironke, O.D., M.P.H., FAAO, is delighted the AOA chose to implement a comparable program, saying the goal is to help the whole profession grow and diversify, not just KYCO.
KYCO’s OAT grant program aspires to give back to the optometric professional by helping minority/underrepresented students and those with financial difficulties that could affect their ability to take the OAT. Of those 43 applicants, 60 percent are African American, 18 percent are LatinX, 11 percent are Asian and nine percent are Caucasian.
The total amount awarded to each student is $625 which includes the cost of the exam along with current study materials they may need to pass. Most of the funds come from local donors who wish to remain anonymous.
For more information or to make a donation to the KYCO OAT grant program, please contact Senior Director of Advancement Courtney Justice at (606) 218-5276 or email [email protected].
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