INSIGHT Into Diversity recently honored the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) with its 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award for its Pathways into Dentistry pipeline program, which invites middle school, high school, and college students to envision a career in dentistry. The award salutes colleges and universities nationwide that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
“We’re honored to receive national recognition for our program,” said Josephine Kim, PhD, HSDM director of diversity and inclusion. “Our DMD students, particularly the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows, are great advocates and mentors for young students who may otherwise lack opportunities to learn about the field of dentistry. It is truly a team effort with students, faculty, and staff from all areas of the school contributing to the program.”
“This award is particularly important to us because it allows us to inspire youth and expose them to career opportunities they may not have previously considered,” said Ty Adeseye (DMD 2019), senior Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. “It is important to have a diverse community of healthcare professionals that is representative of the people they serve, and it starts with educating young students.”
HSDM’s offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Admission partner with organizations such as the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, MEDscience, MGH/Revere Cares, Reactions in Action, the National Student Leadership Conference, Seeds of Hope, and Indian Island School to bring students who likely would not be exposed to career opportunities in dentistry to HSDM to introduce them to the field. Students who express an interest in dentistry can participate in further pipeline programming with job shadowing opportunities with local dentists.
“While we have the students with us, we also teach them about oral health and oral hygiene practices so we can contribute to the prevention of oral disease,” said Kim. “Students leave with knowledge about the field, information on the admissions process, and equipped with oral hygiene products (toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss).”
“If we can convince one middle school student that they can do it and give them guidance on what it might take to get there, then we create a ripple effect. We’ve now helped one more person to get there, and this person will become another advocate for countless others,” said Mindy Truong (DMD 2019), senior Diversity and Inclusion Fellow.
HSDM also piloted a new recruitment initiative in March as part of Pathways into Dentistry when Jeffrey Taylor (DMD 2020), a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, gave a presentation about dentistry and HDSM’s admissions process at Spelman College and Oakwood University, both historically Black institutions. A similar presentation was given at a historically Black high school in Atlanta.