Fall 2017

A Dream Within Grasp

Diversity initiative lets students try on dental school for a weekend.

By Monica Jimenez

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Roshaunda Moreno Kitchen, D20, and Derrick Durham of Morehouse College.

Bending over a rubber head in the Sim Clinic, Roshaunda Moreno Kitchen, D20, lifted an instrument from a metal tray and inserted it into the mannequin’s wide-open mouth. “You can use this instrument and press down like this,” she told Derrick Durham, who was learning how to place composite fillings on a posterior tooth.

Durham, a sophomore at Morehouse College, was one of 34 college students, graduate school students and interns participating in the fourth annual Increasing Diversity in Dentistry (IDID) symposium at the School of Dental Medicine this past May. As a kid, Durham was passionate about teeth, he said. But looking at admissions statistics for the dental schools of his choice, he wasn’t optimistic about his chances of getting in.

Then he signed up for the IDID Pipeline Initiative, a program founded four years ago by Jeanette Sabir-Holloway, director of outreach, recruitment and admissions at the dental school, in partnership with IDID Institute Corp. The symposium is run through the Tufts chapter of the Student National Dental Association. By providing exposure to the dental school and creating mentoring relationships, IDID helps underrepresented minority students become better prepared applicants, Sabir-Holloway said. Some 23 students who completed the program have gone on to attend Tufts and are set to graduate between 2018 and 2021.

The most useful part of the two-day event, Durham said, was the opportunity to interact with dental students, who hosted participants overnight, helped them craft resumes and personal statements, and talked about life as a dentist in training. “The best part was being able to pick their brains and ask questions,” Durham said. “They said it’s hard work, it’s not going to be easy, but you can do it.”

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