Salus University Alumni Association Awards

The Salus University Alumni Association annually recognizes the professional contributions and achievements of graduates and friends of the institution. Awardees are nominated by alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of Salus.

2020 Award Recipients: 

Brandi Burns, MMS ‘16, PA-C: Physician Assistant Alumna of the Year
Brandi BurnsBrandi Burns (née Loga), MMS, PA-C, graduated from Salus University in 2016 with her Master’s of Medical Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies. She has devoted years of experience and her knowledge in general pediatrics to providing quality patient-centered care. Specifically, her passion is to help families with weight management, infant care and nutrition, and concussion diagnosis and care. She is also well-known by many of her peers and students as being a phenomenal Pre-Professional Health advisor for students at Alvernia University, while also being an adjunct in the science department. Burns also lectures at Salus in the pediatric module of clinical medicine for first year PA students and takes second year PA students for their clinical rotations in pediatrics. The Alumni Association is proud to name Brandi Burns, MMS, PA-C the Physician Assistant Alumna of the Year.


 
Andrew Gurwood, OD ‘89, FAAO, Resident ’90: Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year
andrew gurwoodAndrew Gurwood, OD ‘89, FAAO, Resident ’90, is a professor of Clinical Sciences, an attending optometrist and co-chief of Suite 3 at TEI. He is also an attending clinical staff member of Albert Einstein Medical Center, Department of Ophthalmology. He has lectured and published nationally and internationally on a wide range of subjects in the arena of ocular disease. Dr. Gurwood currently serves on the editorial boards of Review of Optometry where he also serves as the Chair of the Clinical Case Reports Committee. He is on the editorial review boards of Optometric Management Journal, Clinical and Experimental Optometry (Aus), and The Spanish Journal: Optometry. He is a founding member of the Optometric Retina Society, a member of The Optometric Glaucoma Society, a charter (founding) member of The Optometric Dry Eye Society, chair of the Buxmont Optometric Society Continuing Education Committee and serves as the Diagnostic Quiz Columnist for Review of Optometry Journal. It is with pride that the Salus University Alumni Association names Andrew Gurwood as the Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year.


 
Faye Miller, O&M ’14: Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumna of the Year
Faye MillerFaye Miller, O&M ’14, earned her certificate in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) in 2014 from Salus University. Devoted  to her work at the Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSB), she serves as a full-time O&M instructor and also as the coordinator of the Oklahoma Regional Braille Challenge and Oklahoma Regional Cane Quest. Miller strives to create growth in the O&M field by supporting state cohort activities and partnership programs designed to meet the needs of a specific state for improving the number of high-quality instructors in the area. She has an unparalleled commitment to students with visual impairments, supporting their growth and learning inside and outside of the classroom, both as a direct service provider and as an educator of future O&M professionals. The Salus University Alumni Association is proud to award Faye Miller with the Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumna of the Year Award.


 
Kathryn Dowd, AuD ‘08: Audiology Alumna of the Year Award
Kathyn DowdKathryn Dowd, AuD ‘08 has dedicated decades of service to the profession of audiology, promoting the awareness of chronic and infectious diseases and ototoxic medication, and the impact on hearing loss among patients, diabetes educators, and audiologists nationally. Her background over that past 41 years is varied with audiology at the school systems and state levels, as well as a private practice in ENT offices, skilled nursing facilities and proprietary clinics. She has owned a private practice for 28 years, managing all aspects of business development including patient care, marketing, human resources and business growth. Dr. Dowd works to erase impediments in improving access to hearing healthcare on a state and national level. Salus University Alumni Association is proud to name Dr. Dowd the Audiology Alumna of the Year.

 
Alta R. Fried, MSOT ‘14: Occupational Therapy Alumna of the Year Award
Alta FriedAlta Fried, MSOT ‘14, graduated with her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She not only went on to complete her fellowship training at the Philadelphia Hand and Shoulder Center, but she has also dedicated more than 4,000 hours in hand therapy to become a Certified Hand Therapist. She has published articles in Advance Magazine and American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) Times, which is reputable in the community of occupational therapists. She is dedicated to not only the field of occupational therapy, but also the University’s Occupational Therapy (OT) program specifically, serving on the OT Advisory Board, the Alumni Association Board, as well as supervising students during their fieldwork placements. Salus University Alumni Association is proud to name Alta Fried the OT Alumna of the Year Award.
 
 
Vittorio Mena, OD ‘14: Public Service Award
Vittorio MenaVittorio Mena, OD ‘14, graduated with a Doctor of Optometry from Salus PCO and now specializes in corneal and contact lens management with more than six years of diverse experiences. He serves as the Sports Vision Director at the Optical Academy in New Jersey and has shown continued and active involvement in the optometry community. Dr. Mena is the Co-Clinical Director of Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes Program, servicing athletes and coaches yearly. He has also released several publications in various optometry magazines, including his latest in the Modern Optometry Magazine. Dr. Mena was awarded the “Young OD of the Year 2019” by the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) and now serves on the NJSOP Board of Directors. The Salus University Alumni Association proudly awards Dr. Mena with the Public Service Award.

 
Bhawan K. Minhas, OD, FAAO, Resident ‘13: Distinguished Service Award
Bhawan K. MinhasIn recognition of her outstanding service to Salus University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), the Alumni Association is proud to award Dr. Minhas with the Distinguished Service Award. A 2009 graduate of the University of Calgary and a 2013 graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry, Dr. Minhas completed her residency in Primary Care at The Eye Institute (TEI) and immediately thereafter became a PCO faculty member. She took on the role of director of the on-campus Residency Programs in 2016 and for the past four years, she has worked alongside students and residents to help them grow personally and professionally both at Salus PCO and TEI. She continues to fuel her passion for learning and teaching by continuously implementing new technology in patient care. 
 
 

Guidelines for Nominations

  • Academic degrees earned (include granting institutions and date)
  • Other positions held and relevant experience
  • Ways in which nominee has distinguished his/herself in chosen field
  • Ways in which nominee has supported his/her college and/or the University
  • Ways in which nominee has represented the college and/or University via his/her achievements
  • Ways in which nominee's PCO/Salus University education/degree has helped him/her in chosen career
  • Examples of nominee’s civic involvement and/or displays of personal and professional integrity
  • Honors attained
  • Provide any other information which supports why the nominee is deserving of the indicated Award, and why such an award is appropriate. If relevant, please describe how the nominee has overcome an unusual adversity.
Please complete the nomination form(s) providing as much of the requested information as possible. | Method of Nomination and Selection (PDF)

Alumni Awards     

Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year

This award is presented to an alumnus of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the profession of optometry, bringing honor and prestige to the College.

Audiology Alumnus of the Year Award

This award is presented to an alumnus/a of the Salus University George S. Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) or the PCO School of Audiology who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the profession of Audiology, bringing honor and prestige to Salus University and OCA.

Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumnus of the Year

This award is presented to an alumnus of the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Salus University who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the field of Blindness and Low Vision Education and Rehabilitation, bringing honor and prestige to Salus University.

Distinguished Service Award 

This award is presented to a non-alumnus/a who is closely identified with Salus University and who has provided notable service to the University and their profession.

Occupational Therapy Alumnus of the Year

This award is presented to an alumnus of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Salus University who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the field of occupational therapy, bringing honor and prestige to Salus University. 

Physician Assistant Alumnus of the Year

This award is presented to an alumnus of the Salus University physician assistant program who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the physician assistant profession, bringing honor and prestige to Salus University.

Public Service Award 

This award is presented to a person (or organization), preferably of national standing, who (which) has made a recent significant contribution to Salus University or to their profession. 

Special Recognition Award

 This award is presented as special recognition of an individual's or organization's contribution to Salus University, their profession or their community.