Program to Boost Diversity in Academic Dentistry Gets Funding

Dr. Rosa Chaviano and Dr. Herminio Perez

RSDM received an $85,000 grant from the ADEAGies Foundation to help underrepresented students and recent graduates nationwide  become leaders in the field of academic dentistry.

The program is designed to encourage students who are underrepresented, including LGBTQ students, to become faculty and administrators at dental schools and schools that educate dental hygienists.

"As we embark on this exciting journey to create awareness in academic dentistry, we will make a difference in the profession,'' said Dr. Rosa Chaviano-Moran, Associate Dean for Admissions and the principal investigator for the grant.  The co-principal investigator is Dr. Herminio Perez, Director of Student and Multicultural Affairs.

"This initiative will help in the development of meaningful dental institutional relationships,'' she added.

The funding will allow Chaviano-Moran and Dr. Herminio Perez to  present intraprofessional seminars at dental institutions and conferences, including the Greater New York Dental  Meeting later this month in conjunction with New York University's College of Dentistry, UCLA school of Dentistry and Hostos Community College School of Hygiene. They also hope to turn the information into a "how-to booklet,'' said Perez.

Although financial barriers often discourage underrepresented students from pursuing academic dentistry careers, other challenges exist. There is a lack of role models in oral healthcare, so it's harder for them to gain insider knowledge or envision themselves in those positions, said  Perez."We have been successful, but it's been a hard journey,'' he added.

The seminar will share information on getting involved in student leadership roles at school, pursuing scholarships, developing a portfolio and working on professional development.

"Our vision, collaboration and network of leaders will make a real difference," said Chaviano-Moran. "Let’s share our invaluable experiences and work to encourage and support.''