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Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Student Scholarship

Arlene Stearns was a trailblazing figure in the field of orthoptics, known for her expertise as a clinician, educator, and leader. From 1950 to 1986, she played a pivotal role as the director of the orthoptic program at the renowned Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, Michigan. During her tenure, she provided invaluable mentorship and guidance to numerous orthoptic students. 

Arlene also made significant contributions to the orthoptic community through her involvement in various leadership positions within the American Association of Certified Orthoptists and the American Orthoptic Council. Through her dedication and vision, she played an instrumental role in shaping the orthoptic landscape in the United States.

About the Scholarship

In 2024, FOREA established the Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Student Scholarship with the purpose of providing support to orthoptic students who are entering their first year of training. Many orthoptic students face the challenge of being ineligible for traditional scholarships or student loans, which makes it difficult for them to cover the expenses associated with their post-graduate education.

Orthoptic fellowship programs are intensive two-year training programs that can impose significant financial burdens on students, with annual costs reaching $40,000 for tuition fees, as well as room and board fees.

The Arlene E. Stearns Student Scholarships are specifically designed for newly-accepted students embarking on an orthoptic/vision science program in the United States or Canada. These scholarships are awarded based on financial need and are aimed at alleviating the financial challenges that incoming students face. The funding provided by the scholarships helps to offset the costs of tuition and living expenses throughout their educational journey.

FOREA's establishment of the Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Student Scholarship honors Arlene's legacy and her dedication to the field of orthoptics. It represents a commitment to supporting the next generation of orthoptic students and ensuring that financial barriers do not impede their educational journey. Through these scholarships, FOREA strives to make a lasting impact, fostering a vibrant and diverse community of orthoptic professionals who will contribute to the advancement of the field and provide exceptional care to patients.

 In 2024, FOREA will award up to $10,000 in need-based scholarships through the Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Fund.​

Now Accepting Applications

Submission Deadline

July 1, 2024

Scholarship Selection and Award Distribution
  • Scholarship recipients will notified in September.

  • Scholarship prize money will be awarded 10-12 weeks after the program start date, upon conferring with the program director that the recipient student is progressing favorably in the early weeks of their program.

Any questions can be addressed to:

Judy Petrunak Higgins, CO at

Chair - FOREA Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Fund

Arlene E. Stearns Memorial Student Scholarship
Arlene E. Stearns Young Orthoptist Investigator Award
Arlene E. Stearns Rising Star Award
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