Optometry Giving Sight has awarded 3 Academic Medals to graduating students from the School of Optometry at Mzuzu University in Malawi, Africa.
The Medals were presented at their graduation ceremony held on 21 August. Dr. Sara McGowan, the current Head of School and graduate of the University of Alabama, was in attendance.
The Academic Medals were awarded in the names of 3 of Optometry Giving Sight’s Chairman’s Club members.
They were awarded:
- The Dr. John McCall Academic Medal for Outstanding Achievement awarded to Mr. Jaliff Chitseko.
- The Dr. Bobby & Mrs. Jayne Christensen Academic Medal for Excellence awarded to Mr. Symon Chikumba.
- The Dr. Glenn and Mrs. Clairice Ellisor Academic Medal for Merit awarded to Ms. Thandiwe Munthali.
The award to Thandiwe Munthali was of particular note as she is one of only 2 women to have graduated from this course to date.
“I would like to thank Optometry Giving Sight for the award,” said Thandiwe. “I hope this award will encourage my fellow women to work hard and also have the desire to pursue optometry.”
The degree program at Mzuzu University is playing an important role in the training of eye care professionals in Malawi and has so far produced 26 graduates, with a further 34 students completing their studies. The graduates have or will be deployed to civil service in government hospitals to help those in need.
There are currently 3 expatriate faculty and the University has just employed 2 of the first graduates as junior faculty. This is a key strategy for ensuring sustainability measures are in place for this project, and both junior faculty members are pursuing further studies with a view to completing their masters degrees.
The School of Optometry Program in Malawi was established in 2009 with funding from Optometry Giving Sight, the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Sightsavers. The program is implemented by Brien Holden Vision Institute with the Department of Health, Mzuzu University and Malawi College of Health Sciences (MCHS). Additional funding is provided by DFAT.
Optometry Giving Sight supports optometry school programs around the world where to date 109 students have now graduated with a degree or a diploma and 21 graduates are being developed as faculty. These graduates will provide eye health to more than 5 million people over the next 10 years.
Chairman’s Club Medals have also been awarded to recent graduates in Eritrea; and further presentations will be made over the coming months in Nicaragua and Vietnam.
Pictured are graduates Thandiwe Munthali, Symon Chikumba and Jaliff Chitseko.
Photo courtesy Brien Holden Vision Institute.