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UHCO Commencement 2016

Posted On: 05/19/2016

Brett Bence, OD, '79, FAAO, Alumni of the Year

Throughout his life and career, Brett Bence, OD, ’79, FAAO, has given of himself to others and his community.

Brett graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University and entered UCHO in the fall of 1975. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with his OD degree in 1979. After graduation, Brett served his country as a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserve at the Naval Regional Medical Center in San Diego. Subsequently, Brett moved to Washington State and became a pioneer in the co-management of surgical patients with ophthalmology. Today Brett is a partner and the director of optometric services in a large multi-center surgical and co-management practice in western Washington.

Throughout his career, Brett has distinguished himself via his service to our profession. He has effectively testified in his state legislature to expand the scope of optometric practice, he has held virtually every office in the Washington Association of Optometric Physicians and for his efforts; he received the President’s Distinguished Service Award from the WAOP and in 1997 was named Doctor of the Year for Washington State. Brett has also been actively involved in optometric education. He has served as adjunct faculty for three optometry schools including UHCO and has presented nearly 200 post-graduate lectures, posters and papers at the American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting. For the past 10 years, he has focused much of his volunteer efforts on promoting the Academy. In 2005, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Academy and he is currently serving as the President of the Academy.

Brett has also worked to enhance the lives of future optometrists through support of UHCO’s growth and investment in continuing education. Brett established an endowment for American Academy of Optometry Student Membership to help students become more active and promote life-long learning within the field.
Simply put, he is a fantastic role model. His career in patient care and service to his community and profession make him the UHCO 2016 Alumnus of the Year. We wish him all the best as he continues to embody the UHCO mission: Enhancing Vision for Life!

William "Bill" Elizondo, OD, Volunteer of the Year 

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has given of themselves in support of the profession and the College of Optometry. William Bill Elizondo, OD, is a genuine man who beyond on else, truly conveys what it means to have a servants heart.

Dr. Elizondo is a cum Laude graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, Class of 1959. He has been a fixture in Texas optometry and in his home town of San Antonio since he started his practice in 1959. Dr. Elizondo is highly connected within optometry. Consequently, and because of a very persistent and charismatic personality, Dr. Elizondo gets things done. For over 50 years, Dr. Elizondo has been a leader and champion for the optometric profession.  He has spent his career spearheading scholarships for students, crafting legislation to advance education, and serving as an advocate for the optometric profession. Throughout his career, Dr. Elizondo has served in numerous positions and received several accolades for his contributions. These include, but not limited to, National LULAC Man of the Year; Catrin Man of the Year Award; the Dr. Bill Pittman Award from the TOA; the Federal Key Person of the Year from the American Optometric Association and the Texas Star Award from the Texas State Teachers Association; Ambassador for Peace Medal from the Korean government. Dr. Elizondo is constantly asked to serve or elected to serve, on local, state and national organizations.

This year Dr. Elizondo is being recognized for his efforts on behalf of UHCO students. Several years ago, the TOA, the Bexar County Optometric Society and many of Dr. Elizondo’s friends, raised funds to establish a scholarship endowment in his name. However, not to be out done, last year Dr. Elizondo turned his 85th birthday party into a scholarship fundraising event that resulted in doubling the size of his scholarship endowment. The resulting scholarships will help reduce the costs of optometry school for generations to come at UHCO. His unyielding service and dedication to the profession is without question and UHCO is honored to recognize William Bill Elizondo, OD, as the UHCO 2016 Volunteer of the Year.