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February 29, 2012

Students Mark Black History Month, Celebrate Minority Dentists’ Contributions

Fouth-year students (left to right) Allison St. Paul, Laura Barunas, and Ngozi Okoh were recognized for their dedication and contributions to the SNDA (not pictured is additional student award recipient Ben Drane).

Fouth-year students (left to right) Allison St. Paul, Laura Barunas, and Ngozi Okoh were recognized for their dedication and contributions to the SNDA (not pictured is additional student award recipient Ben Drane).

Philadelphia – The Penn Dental Medicine chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) marked Black History Month with a special program on February 23, drawing faculty, alumni, students, and staff together for this annual celebration. The theme of this year’s event was “Celebrating Community Contributions of Minority Dentists.”

The evening’s program, held within the School’s Robert Schattner Center, featured guest speaker Dr. Joan Malcolm, a graduate of Penn Dental Medicine, who practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Sicklerville, N.J.; Dr. Malcolm is also an active dental health educator in the community. The program also included an awards presentation to fourth-year Penn Dental Medicine students Allison St. Paul, Ngozi Okoh (who has also served as President of the national SNDA for 2011-2012), Ben Drane, and Laura Barunas for their dedication and support of the organization. “This was one of the last SNDA events for seniors, so we wanted to recognize them for their hard work and dedication to the organization during their time at Penn Dental,” says Rachel Callaway (D’13), an Officer in the SNDA.

In addition, Drs. Eric and Kellyn Hodges, members of New Era Dental Society’s Scholarship Committee, were recognized for their scholarship support of Penn Dental Medicine students over the years. “Beyond the scholarships, they have provided personal support and mentorship to many members,” adds Callaway.

A final award of appreciation was presented to Jerome Reed, from Penn Dental Medicine’s Facilities Department. “Jerome has been instrumental in helping with our events and has been a daily supporter of our organization,” says Callaway.

The evening also included a silent auction fundraiser to support SNDA programs. The SNDA, with chapters at dental schools throughout the country, is an auxiliary organization to the National Dental Association, whose mission is to represent the concerns of ethnic minorities in dentistry, to elevate the global oral health concerns of underserved communities, to enhance educational and financial opportunities and public policy awareness for its members, and to recruit underrepresented minorities into the profession through advocacy and mentorship.

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University of Pennsylvania
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