Destination Dental School

Destination Dental School is an intense gateway experience for students who are interested in a career in dentistry. This program prepares students who have been historically underrepresented in the profession to successfully apply to dental school.

*2022 Cohort for the Destination Dental School and Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway Program_Image.

In this annual summer program, DDS Fellows learn about the dental profession and dental school application and financing strategies, study for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), participate in hands-on activities, conduct research projects, and network with faculty mentors, dental students and community leaders. Students attend six virtual sessions, held on Saturdays in June and July, and a five-day, in-person, intensive training program at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. DDS Fellows receive stipends to cover travel and lodging expenses, reimbursement for one DAT and a waived application fee to UB SDM.

In 2022, UB's DDS program partnered with the Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway to Dentistry program to combine virtual and in-person events. 

2022 Inspiring Program in STEM Award Logo.

2022 and 2023 Inspiring Program in STEM Award Winner

Each year, INSIGHT Into Diversity recognizes colleges, universities, and organizations that have established cutting-edge programs, events, and initiatives devoted to the work of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM. Destination Dental School was selected as one of 77 programs across the nation for the 2022 Inspiring Program in STEM Award, and one of 79 programs for the 2023 award, highlighting programs that demonstrated inventiveness and dedication in supporting a new generation of high-achieving scholars and professionals.

2023 Inspiring Program in STEM Award.

Thanks to our Donors and Sponsors

This program would not be possible without the support of our generous donors and sponsors.

2023 Donors for DDS include the Philip and Catherine Galeota Fund and the UB SDM Alumni Association. Donors for the 2023 Gateway Program include National Indian Health Board, Seneca Nation Health System, Seneca Iroquois National Museum, and United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET).

Donors for combined programming include: Eighth District Dental Society, Evolution Dental, Ivoclar Vivadent, Kerr Dental, Patterson Dental, Stellar Dental Management, UB SDM Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry, UB SDM Office of Student Affairs and DAT Bootcamp.

The Class of 2023

Destination Dental School and the Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway Program welcomed 30 aspiring dentists to its program during the summer of 2023. Our Fellows represented 13 states and 24 colleges and universities. Their ages ranged from 19 to 37 years old. Fellows spend 6 weeks in virtual Saturday sessions and one-week at the UB SDM where they interacted with dozens of students and residents in clinical rotations and hands on activities, presented capstone research projects, participated in mock interviews and resume clinics, and networked with faculty, staff and community partners. 

The Class of 2022

The Destination Dental School and Native American Pre-dental Student Gateway Program welcomed 30 students from across the nation to the University at Buffalo in July 2022. Fellows represented 17 U.S. States and 28 universities and colleges from across the nation. Their ages ranged from 19 to 45 years old. This cohort spent seven weeks learning virtually about dental medicine and dental school and then joined us as the inaugural in-person class! Time in Buffalo was well-spent, meeting one another, studying for the DAT, prepping for admissions, completing hands-on activities and enjoying Buffalo summers! 

DDS 2022 Report.

Destination Dental School 2022 Report

Published in December 2022, this report summarizes the program, the perceived outcomes and reflections from student participants, and impacts of the program on student applications and enrollment in dental schools to date.  

The Class of 2021

DDS 2021 participants.

The Destination Dental School inaugural class of 2021 included 24 participants from across the United States, stretching from New York to Florida to California. These talented students spent every Saturday morning with us during the summer of 2021 learning about the field of dental medicine, participating in hands on activities, and completing capstone research projects. We look forward to a continued partnership with them and the good work they will accomplish in their future dental careers.

About Destination Dental School

Diversity dental school Graphic.

Program Benefits: 

  • Stipend to cover travel and lodging expenses
  • Reimbursement for one Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
  • DAT study resources
  • A waived application fee to the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

Program Dates:

DDS is a summer program that includes both virtual and in-person components. The schedule for the 2023 program will be annoucned soon. Fellows are required to attend all virtual and in-person programming to maintain their status in the program and be eligible for DDS program benefits:

  • Virtual Programming
    Six Saturday sessions from 10am-12:20pm on June 3, 10, 17, 24 and July 8 and 15 (15 hours total)

  • In-person Programming
    July 17-21, 2023 at the University at Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine

Program Location:

Virtual programming is led via Zoom.

The in-person, intensive training program is held at the University at Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine in Buffalo, NY, USA.

Program Leadership:

Dr. Latifa Bairam, Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine 
Dr. Wendell Carmona, Program Director, Destination Dental School, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
Dr. Joe Salamon, Dental Services Director, Seneca Nation Health Systems and Program Director, Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway Program Director
Dr. Arian Johnson, Founder, Destination Dental School
Jessica Scates, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Operations, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine 


  • U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or an individual granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status. Canadian citizens may be considered.
  • Enrolled undergraduate student or post-baccalaureate.
  • Minimum overall college GPA of 2.5.
  • Fully vaccinated (COVID-19) or produces a negative test result administered by a medical professional within 72 hours of the in-person component.
  • Meets one or more of the eligibility requirements listed below: 

Underrepresented Minority Status:
Here, underrepresented minorities are defined as groups that are underrepresented in the dental workforce. They include individuals who identify as:

  • Black/African American
  • Hispanic or Latino/Latinx
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (students who identify as AI/AN may only apply to one SDM pathway program, Destination Dental School OR the Native American Pre-Dental Student Gateway Program)
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Pacific Islander

Disadvantaged Status: 
Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  2. Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families
  3. Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years; 
  4. Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree
  5. Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants
  6. Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child; 
  7. Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zip codes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.

Other Disadvantaged or Underrepresented Status: 
If you do  not meet eligibility requirements based on either of the above two categories, please share details regarding a disadvantage or underrepresented status that you would like us to consider. 

How to Connect?

Contact Jessica Scates ( with any questions. 

Apply Here

The 2023 application cycle has closed!

Applications for the 2023 cycle were accepted between February 2nd and March 31st 2023. If you were unable to apply to the program this year, we encourage you to look for the 2024 application to open in January 2024. Please reach out to Ms. Jessica Scates ( if you have any questions. 

How it Started...


Arian Johnson, DDS, Class of 2021
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee;
Student National Dental Association; Diversity Chair

Dr. Arian Johnson, UB SDM class of 2021, was born and raised on the east side of Buffalo, NY, a predominantly Black neighborhood that is highly impacted socioeconomically. Dr. Johnson was the first in her family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and pursue a Doctorate; consequently, she recognizes her role as an advocate and leader for her community. Because of the lack of diversity in the dental profession, she was inspired to propose a dental pipeline program to remove barriers for under-represented students who are seeking careers in dentistry. Her inspiration resulted in the launch of Destination Dental School in 2021. 

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