UB’s Destination Dental School receives award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine

Students wearing blue work at a station in a lab.

Students in the joint Destination Dental School and Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway Program make molds of their teeth as part of a hands-on activity in the pre-clinical simulation lab at the UB School of Dental Medicine. Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Release Date: August 23, 2022

“For solving our current problems and, even more so, for solving those the future might bring, we urgently need to assemble a more diverse workforce. Dental medicine and academia are no exceptions to that. ”
Stefan Ruhl, interim dean
UB School of Dental Medicine

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 been named a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award.

INSIGHT Into Diversity is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and support students from underrepresented groups to enter careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through mentoring, teaching and research.

The UB School of Dental Medicine will be featured, along with 78 other recipients, in the September 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

“To receive this award is a true testament to the commitment and solid efforts that the UB School of Dental Medicine is making to increase diversity in dentistry,” says Thikriat Al-Jewair, DDS, assistant dean of equity, diversity and inclusion in the UB School of Dental Medicine.

“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. “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.”

Founded in 2021, the UB Destination Dental School program was conceived by UB dental alumna Arian Johnson, DDS, who encountered difficulties applying to dental school. Realizing there was a lack of resources for students like herself, she gathered support from the UB School of Dental Medicine’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the UB Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program to make Destination Dental School a reality.

Destination Dental School, which recently graduated its second cohort of students from across the United States, is free and open to all underrepresented undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students interested in a career in dentistry. 

The hybrid 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.

Participants take part in hands-on simulation activities and research projects, and receive access to mentorship from UB dental students and faculty, clinical rotations that explore the various disciplines within dental medicine, dental school application assistance, and networking opportunities with local dentistry leaders.

Students also receive extensive preparation for the Dental Admission Test — a standardized exam required for entry into dental school – and program participants who apply to the UB School of Dental Medicine receive an application fee waiver.

“For solving our current problems and, even more so, for solving those the future might bring, we urgently need to assemble a more diverse workforce. Dental medicine and academia are no exceptions to that. In fact, we still have some major catching up to do,” says Stefan Ruhl, DDS, PhD, interim dean of the UB School of Dental Medicine. 

“By increasing the enrollment of underrepresented students in dental schools, the program will help address the shortage of dentists who may likely later practice dentistry in underserved communities where help is most needed,” says Ruhl. “Our school’s combined Destination Dental School and Gateway programs became an uplifting experience for me. I was moved by experiencing firsthand how much it meant for these exceptionally talented individuals to participate in our program here at UB Dental.”

For more information, visit the Destination Dental School website

Media Contact Information

Marcene Robinson is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email ub-news@buffalo.edu or visit our list of current university media contacts.