Empowering the next generation of dentists starts today

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I had the straightforward path into dentistry. Rising up with a household filled with dentists and family working within the discipline of dentistry, it was simple to get an inside view of the occupation and study early on that it appealed to me. Although it took lots of time and work learning by way of school and for the DAT to make it thus far, it was nonetheless simple for me to check what my targets had been. Generally I’m wondering if I’d have been motivated to work as arduous as I did with out experiencing the clear image of the day-to-day lifetime of a dentist in my household.  

Not too long ago, I spoke with a college member at my college, Dr. Cleverick (CD) Johnson, who helped me understand that being uncovered to dentistry at an early age was a driving issue for the place I’m right now. Dr. Johnson is well-known at UTSD Houston, presently serving as a professor and vice chair within the division of normal observe and dental public well being, in addition to the director of the pressing care clinic. A lesser-known reality is that he was the primary African American UTSD Houston alumni tenured professor at our college. Not solely does he encourage and mentor quite a few college students at our college, he additionally helps the imaginative and prescient of our native Scholar Nationwide Dental Affiliation chapter to mentor underrepresented college students. He adamantly believes that to proceed rising range and inclusion in our occupation, it’s essential to encourage kids at a younger age and to provide them the identical motivation that drove me to pursue dentistry.

When he began as school, Dr. Johnson carried out packages to deliver underprivileged college students into the dental workplace and offered excursions of the dental college — actions he believes we should always proceed. Whereas we had been speaking, he confirmed me a photograph of 4 African American elementary-aged college students he and his spouse had hung out educating. He then pointed at every of them one-by-one saying: “Nurse, nurse, physician, pharmacist.” He informed me that every of those women had been uncovered to drugs at a younger age and that turned their motivation to pursue and achieve having a profession in well being care. The identical will be performed in dentistry.     

With out embracing range, this world could not have been in a position to admire the accomplishments and contributions of the primary African American dentist Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman or the primary African American dental professor at Harvard, Dr. George Franklin Grant. These people had been kids of slaves and broke by way of the dental barrier in the course of the late 1800s, a time when range wasn’t embraced. College students right now nonetheless wrestle with this. Whereas I do consider we should always begin celebrating the feats of dentists of shade, we additionally ought to make a higher effort to introduce younger individuals of shade to the sector and welcome them with open arms. Who is aware of — possibly it’s going to encourage the subsequent technology of dentists.

Within the phrases of Dr. Johnson, “As a practising normal dentist, you meet over 10,000 individuals in your life. As a college member, you meet 10,000 scholar dentists who will then meet 10,000 individuals of their lives. Take into consideration the influence you can also make to so many individuals.”

Sometime, I hope to comply with within the footsteps of somebody who taught me about dentistry, however extra importantly, about life. Sometime, I hope to be a mentor to others, simply as Dr. Johnson has been to me.

~Nicholas Tipton, Houston ’23



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