Image_Fontana Scholarship Recipient

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.– VSP Global® and the Heart of America Eye Care Congress announced today the recipient of the annual Dr. Frank D. Fontana Memorial Scholarship: Brendan Mulqueeny, a fourth-year student at the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry (UMSL). Created in 2019, the prestigious Fontana Scholarship honors the legacy of iconic optometrist, Frank D. Fontana, affectionately known as “Uncle Frank.” Mulqueeny received a $4,250 scholarship and a $750 travel grant to attend the 61st Annual Heart of America Eye Care Congress.

Dr. Fontana passed away in 2018 after practicing for nearly 70 years, leaving an unmatched legacy behind as a colleague, mentor, and friend to so many. He founded the Contact Lens & Cornea section of the American Optometric Association and co-founded the Heart of America Contact Lens Society.

“It is truly an honor to have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Frank D. Fontana Memorial Scholarship,” said Mulqueeny. “Dr. Fontana was one of the most influential optometrists of our time, and to be associated with his name means so much to me. I can only hope to lead a life and career as successful and rewarding as his. Thank you to both the Heart of America Eye Care Congress and VSP Global for making this possible."

The Fontana Scholarship is offered to outstanding third- and fourth-year optometry students actively engaged in patient care. Applicants are judged in four areas in which Dr. Fontana excelled: 1) clinical performance, 2) empathetic patient care, 3) ability and interest to adopt modern technologies, and 4) a strong interest in developing and participating in the optometry community.

From a young age, Mulqueeny began working as a technician in his father’s optometric practice where he was able to witness the impact an optometrist can have on a patient’s life. Empathetic patient care is one of the key reasons he decided to become an optometrist, and patient relationships are one of the aspects he looks forward to most in his career in optometry. During his third year of optometry school, Mulqueeny served as president of the UMSL chapter of the American Optometric Student Association. This May, he will join a practice that serves as a clinical rotation site for students from the University of Missouri.

“The Heart of America Eye Care Congress, together with VSP Global, is proud to honor Dr. Fontana and offer this phenomenal annual tribute to optometry,” said the Heart of America Eye Care Congress President Dr. Wes Garton. “Our selection committee had a number of very qualified applicants and it was difficult to select a winning entry. Mr. Mulqueeny is a very deserving recipient, and we are very happy to recognize him as this year’s winner.”

“Dr. Fontana’s incredible legacy continues to inspire optometry students across the country,” said VSP Global Board Chair Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD. “We congratulate Mr. Mulqueeny on being named this year’s scholarship winner and look forward to continuing supporting eye care’s next generation in honor of Uncle Frank.”

VSP Global has proudly supported optometry for more than 65 years and is committed to advantaging students and new graduates coming into the profession. In total, VSP Global has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships to optometry students with more than 50 scholarships awarded annually. To learn more, visit vspscholarships.com.

*Pictured: Brendan Mulqueeny

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About VSP Global

At VSP Global®, our purpose is to empower human potential through sight. As the first and only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, this is what drives everything we do. For more than 65 years, VSP has been the leader in health-focused vision care. Every day, the people who power our complementary businesses (VSP® Vision Care, Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., Visionworks®, Eyefinity®, Eyeconic®, VSP Optics, and VSP Ventures) work together to create a world where everyone can bring their best vision to life. That means providing affordable access to eye care and eyewear for more than 80 million members through a network of more than 39,000 doctors. And it means expanding access to vision care to those disadvantaged by income, distance, or disaster. Through VSP Eyes of Hope®, more than 3.3 million people in need have received no-cost eye care and eyewear. Learn more about how we’re reinvesting in greater vision, health, and opportunities for all at vspglobal.com.

About Heart of America Eye Care Congress

The Heart of America Eye Care Conference (HOAECC) has always been a proud supporter of the optometric profession for 61 years and will continue to develop meetings that offer camaraderie, education and innovation to its member doctors and Paras. Known by all as the “Heart,” the annual meeting has evolved over time much like the profession of optometry. It began to provide education for the development and application of contact lenses and has evolved and now continues to offer some of the best education in all facets of optometry.




Vibhuti Gupta