Release Date: September 1, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine’s Destination Dental School — a program that aims to remove barriers to careers in dentistry for underrepresented students — has received the 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
Destination Dental School, which recently graduated its third cohort of students from across the United States, is free and open to underrepresented undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students interested in a career in dentistry. The hybrid eight-week summer program provides participants with an understanding of the day-to-day life of a dentist and dental student, helps strengthen their dental school applications and develops their skills as researchers.
This marks the second year that the pathway program has received this award.
“At a time when there is still a noticeable disparity between the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of dentists and the populations they serve, we know we need to do our part to develop a more diverse workforce,” says Marcelo W.B. Araujo, DDS, PhD, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “I was impressed by the amazing talent of the individuals who participated this summer in the UB dental school pathway program.”
INSIGHT Into Diversity is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.
The UB dental school will be featured, along with 79 other recipients, in the September 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity. Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.
“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”
A call for nominations for this award was announced in April 2023.
“We are thrilled that INSIGHT into Diversity magazine has recognized the UB School of Dental Medicine for its efforts to reduce inequities in the oral health field,” says Jessica Scates, director of equity, diversity and inclusion operations at the UB School of Dental Medicine. “Now in its third year, DDS has supported 75 graduates who have completed this program inspired and prepared to apply to dental school. Helping to level the playing field in the dental profession will lead to better health outcomes for everyone.”
Founded in 2021, the UB Destination Dental School program was conceived by UB dental alumna Arian Johnson, who encountered difficulties applying to dental school. Realizing there was a lack of resources for students like herself, she gathered support from the dental school’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and UB’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program to make Destination Dental School a reality. In 2022, the DDS program partnered with the Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway to Dentistry program to combine virtual and in-person events.
This year, the participants ranged in age from 19 to 37 and met virtually on Saturday mornings for seven weeks. During the weeklong session on the UB campus in late July, they shadowed current dental residents, engaged in hands-on learning activities and learned about different dental specialties. They also had the opportunity to hone their leadership skills by presenting a research project, prepare for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and work with UB dental students, faculty and staff to prepare for dental admissions through mock interviews and resume clinics. More than 70 dental school faculty, staff and students volunteered to help make the event possible.
For more information, visit the Destination Dental School website.