SECO 2021 Awards

OD of the South – James Sandefur, OD

The 2021 Optometrist of the South Award will be presented to James Sandefur, OD of Oakdale, Louisiana. Dr. Sandefur is being recognized for his outstanding work in the community and profession for over 50 years. In private practice for the majority of his career, Dr. Sandefur continues to serve the optometric community as Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana, 1997-present. Dr. Sandefur is widely recognized and respected by his peers for his extraordinary career, his leadership in professional associations and his numerous contributions, as evidenced by receiving the SCO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and being named Louisiana’s Optometrist of the Year in 1993 and 2014. In his honor, the OAL Board created the Dr. James D. Sandefur Distinguished Service award, which he was awarded for his many years of outstanding service, and earned the moniker “The Father of Louisiana Optometry.” Because of his tireless service on local, state and national levels, it is impossible to overstate the impact that Dr. Sandefur has had on the profession of Optometry and the public. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is the immeasurable influence he’s had by selflessly mentoring students and Doctors of Optometry across the country and abroad.


Young OD of the South – Lauren Stirling, OD

The 2021 Young Optometrist of the South Award was to Lauren Stirling, OD, of Florence, Alabama. Dr. Stirling is currently in private practice at the Campbell Vision Center in Russellville, Alabama. Before completing her residency at the VA Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June 2012, Dr. Stirling obtained her OD degree from the University of Alabama School of Optometry in 2011, after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Southeastern Louisiana University in 2007. During her time in optometry school, she was a Beta Sigma Kappa member, received the Wal-Mart Scholarship, the New Orleans Contact Lens Society Scholarship, and won the Jess Boyd Eskridge Clinical Excellence Award. Dr. Stirling has reviewed three pieces of professional development literature and has been a presenter and author of numerous academic presentations and publications. Dr. Stirling is a board member for the Alabama Board of Optometric Scholarship Awards, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and became Board Certified by the American Board of Optometry in 2012. Dr. Laura Stirling was named the Alabama Optometric Association ALOA Young Optometrist of the Year in 2020, and currently serves as an ALOA Board Member.


Paraoptometric of the South – Caydie George, CPOT

The 2021 Paraoptometric of the South Award was presented to Mrs. Caydie George, CPOT, of Tupelo, Mississippi. Currently working for four optometrists and three ophthalmologists, she has been in the optometry/ophthalmology field for 21 years, completing her CPOT in 2007 and her COA in 2009. Never one to stop learning, she is currently studying for her COT. Mrs. George trains new hires and her skills include team leadership, scheduling, MIPS reporting, and comprehensive patient workup. Outside of business hours, Mrs. George is fiercely passionate about children’s eyesight, regularly visiting classrooms to talk about the anatomy of the eyes and how to maintain healthy vision. She also enjoys volunteering with the elderly and handicapped to assist with their unique vision issues. Mrs. George looks forward to the opportunity to realize her dreams and participate in a mission trip to offer eye exams in underprivileged areas.


President’s Award –  Andy Cook, OD

The Southern Council of Optometrists is pleased to honor Andrew G. Cook, OD, of Garner, North Carolina, with the 2021 President’s Award in recognition of his dedicated years and outstanding advancements to the profession of optometry. Dr. Cook received his Doctor of Optometry degree with honors from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, before founding his private practice in Garner, which he owned for 33 years. Currently Dr. Cook serves as Optometrist and Clinical Affairs Liaison at MyEyeDr. He previously served as President of the Southern Council of Optometrists, the North Carolina State Board of Optometry, and the North Carolina State Optometric Society. Among many other distinguished service awards, he was recognized as the North Carolina State Optometric Society Optometrist of the Year in 2008. Dr. Cook’s involvement and service to numerous organizations within the profession as well as his local community demonstrates his commitment to the growth of optometry.



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