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A Future in Wellness Awaits

A Future in Wellness Awaits
USC School of Dentistry student

For the past three years, the USC School of Dentistry has helped several underrepresented minority students make their way to dental school.

A grant from the California Wellness Foundation has allowed the School of Dentistry to fund Dental Admission Test preparation classes as well as application process enrichment activities and scholarships for dental students, said Dolores Juarez and Carol Parker, staff members at the School of Dentistry Community Health Programs.

The program aims to assist at least 10 minority pre-dental students every year with test and application preparation, employ a tracking system to keep tabs on their progress and provide scholarships to at least five enrolled minority dental students annually, Parker said.

During 2008, 13 students – seven Hispanic and six African-American – took part in the program, taking Kaplan Test Review and Princeton Review courses free of charge and working with admissions counselors and dental students to examine school choices, compose personal statements and complete dental school applications.

The program already has seen success, Juarez said. At the end of 2008, four students had been admitted to dental school: two at USC, one at Tufts University and one at the University of Maryland. Two students have enrolled in postbaccalaureate preparation programs to prepare them for future dental aspirations. In addition, three others have chosen to pursue careers in different facets of health; one has applied to pharmacy school and two have been accepted into Master’s in Public Health programs.

California Wellness Foundation funds and matching awards from the USC Mexican American Alumni Association exceeded expectations, allowing USC School of Dentistry Community Health Programs to award $47,000 in scholarship money to nine underrepresented minority, first-year dental students.

Joanna Jefferson found the program’s assistance with Dental Admission Test preparation classes very helpful, she said. An active member of the USC Pre-Dental Club as an undergraduate student, she found out about the opportunities for test prep assistance through the USC School of Dentistry’s Admissions Office. The Princeton Review course she completed as part of the program helped her perform well on the exam, and she was admitted to the School of Dentistry’s Class of 2012.

“I loved it. It definitely made a big difference,” Jefferson said. “This assistance is great for students in the community who might not otherwise have these resources.”

The program is funded through the spring of 2010 and will be assisting students until then. For more information, or to refer minority pre-dental students for Dental Admission Test and support, contact Carol Parker at parkerst@usc.edu or Dolores Juarez at dajuarez@usc.edu.

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