An exceptional optometry student from Ho Chi Minh City has received an international scholarship to further her professional studies. The scholarship was granted by Dr. Tony Hanks OAM and his wife Vicki Hanks to Võ Huỳnh Nhi, who is in her third year, studying Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Medicine Phạm Ngọc Thạch. In 2019, Ms. Võ will graduate as a first generation Vietnamese optometrist.
Ms. Võ comes from a poor farming family which live on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. She received the Dr. Anthony and Vicki Hanks Scholarship in recognition of her strong academic achievements and willingness to volunteer helping communities in Ho Chi Minh City. Ms. Võ achieved honour awards in science and research, and was selected as the best student of her class in the 2016–17 academic year.
The optometry school at which Ms. Võ is completing her studies was launched in 2014, and is the first tertiary level school of optometry in Vietnam. The first Vietnamese optometrists will graduate from the school in October this year and go on to service their country by providing increased eye care capacity to the Vietnamese people.
Ms. Võ achieved honour awards in science and research, and was selected as the best student of her class in the 2016–17 academic year
The optometry school is a joint initiative between the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the University of Medicine Pham Ngoc Thach and the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital. It is the culmination of a longterm plan to introduce optometry to the country, with the primary goal of alleviating the burden of uncorrected refractive error in Vietnam in line with the Vietnamese National Eye Health Plan.
Speaking of the imminent graduation, Dr. Tony Hanks, optometrist and former owner of Hanks Optometrists in NSW said, “This is an awesome story of achievement. In 2014 there were just three optometrists for a population of 90 million; now there are 11, including some who have returned to teach in their country of birth. In a few years there will be over 100 and on it will go.”
Ly Huynh, Country Representative for the Institute, “Optometry is a developing profession with great potential to create much needed change in Vietnam. I believe optometry is pivotal to improving the eye health of Vietnamese people.” She said the presentation of a scholarship to Võ Huỳnh Nhi, is a special celebration to honour and support one of our future ambassadors for the new profession of optometry as it begins to become established in Vietnam. We are humbly grateful to Dr. Tony Hanks and Mrs. Vicki Hanks for all their care, support and generosity.”