We take great pride in the success of our graduates, many of whom have become leaders in their state, if not nationally. One graduate who exemplifies leadership is Dr. Scott Burks (’02). Like so many UMSL graduates, his motivation to pursue optometry came from gaining experience beforehand while at Drury University. “While an undergrad I was able to do a semester as an intern at Missouri Eye Institute in Springfield, MO. After starting there, I quickly came to appreciate what optometry was and that it was the field for me,” commented Burks.
Scott had many reasons in making UMSL College of Optometry his choice to pursue his optometric education. “When I was applying to optometry schools I was looking for a school where the class size was small. I feel this creates a better learning environment and it helps you develop more personal and professional relationships with your classmates and professors. These relationships helped me in school and I still enjoy them today 15 years after graduation,” Burks said.
Upon graduation in 2002 he joined the practice of Buffalo and Marshfield Eye Clinics, which is owned by two doctors, Dr. David Kramer and Dr. Rex Newcomb(’84). The practice emphasized the importance of being involved in the profession. Dr. Newcomb has served as past president of the Missouri Optometric Association, past president of the Missouri Optometric Foundation, and past president of the Greater Ozarks Optometric Association.
In addition, Newcomb received the University of Missouri-St. Louis Distinguished Alumni Award and he was the recipient of the prestigious “Missouri Optometrist of the Year” award.
Dr. Burks also became a leader both in the state of Missouri and beyond because he had this opportunity to work with good role models. He is very active in the American Optometric Association and the Missouri Optometric Foundation and he has recently served as President of the Missouri Optometric Association after serving as President of the Greater Ozark Optometric Society. His efforts and service to the profession gain recognition by his peers through the awarding of the Missouri Optometric Association’s, “Young Optometrist of the Year”.
Continuing this trend Dr. Burks has been a very good mentor to the youngest member of the Buffalo and Marshfield Eye Clinics team, Dr. Shawn Yarnell (’10). Yarnell, a former class president at the College of Optometry, has followed the examples of her peers by recently serving as President of the Greater Ozarks Optometric Society. She is appreciative of what Dr. Burks has meant to her career. “I joined Scott's practice as a new practitioner, and through these several years we have worked together, he has been a great example of a true leader in optometry. From being on the MOA board for several years as well as being actively involved in other optometric and local organizations, Scott is constantly ensuring optometry remains a desirable, respectable profession,” commented Yarnell. She also appreciates his openness and availability to discuss clinical cases in our office, as he always offers great insight.
Scott is appreciative of the role his wife Karen has played in his professional career. “Karen has been active with the MOA Auxiliary and their yearly scholarship for Missouri optometry students. She probably loves the profession as much as I do,” said Burks.
Burks also feels a commitment to serve his community, his country, and his alma mater. He has served as past president of the Rotary Club within his community and served as an Optometry Officer in the Missouri Army National Guard for eight years. The College of Optometry has benefitted from his commitment to the new Patient Care Center capital campaign. It is evident that his service to the community and to the profession will continue long into the future. He currently serves on the VisionUSA Committee for the American Optometric Association and is president-elect for the North Central States Optometric Council. His goal is an admirable one, “By serving in various positions over the years I hope to have strengthened the profession for current and future doctors,” commented Burks.
Dr. Scott and Karen Burks