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Submitted by Mary J. Hale, C'79, VUUNAA Communications and Marketing Committee

Dr. Paula Harmon Boone, C’75 is recognized as the 2021 Optometrist of the Year by the National Optometric Association (NOA) for her dedication to recruiting African American students into the profession of optometry.

Dr. Boone currently serves as director of “Visioning the Future” for the NOA HBCU mentorship program. The program objective is to identify African American students at HBCUs interested in optometry and facilitates their professional development and career advancement in the profession. The program provides academic support and educational funding.

There is a significant imbalance in the racial and ethnic diversity represented within optometry as compared to the U.S. population. African American optometrists are drastically lower than the number of other minorities in the health care workforce. Studies have shown that having an eye care professional who is culturally connected to the patient often results in comprehensive care and treatment with a better eye health outcome for the patient.

Dr. Boone graduated from the Indiana University School of Optometry and practiced with Norfolk Eye Physicians and Surgeons for several years. She went on to supervise the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNYS) branch’s health clinic optometry department and serve as the coordinator of the NNSY Sight Conservation Program for over twenty-five years.

Dr. Boone is the first African American female licensed to practice in the state of Virginia and appointed to the Virginia Board of Optometry, serving two terms.

Dr. Boone is also a member of the Norfolk Middletown Lions Club of Southeastern Virginia, and treasurer of the VUUNAA Mary Redd Nelson Hampton Roads Chapter.

The NOA was founded in Richmond, VA in 1969 by Dr. John L. Howlette and Dr. C. Clayton Powell to recruit and nurture African American students into the profession and to advance the visual health of minority communities.

After over 30 years of practice, Dr. Boone strives now to provide the mentorship she received as a student at VUU from Dr. John Howlette, Dr. M. Philmore Howlette, and the Hon. Benjamin J. Lambert III, OD, (VUU C’59).

To learn more and donate to the National Optometric Association, visit:  https://nationaloptometricassociation.com.   Your donation to the National Optometric Foundation will support more African Americans in the field of Optometry.   To learn about becoming an optometrist, contact Dr. Boone at [email protected]

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