Penn Dental Medicine Student Recognized for Community Service


Rising fourth-year student Marie-Elena Cronin (D’20), the 2019 Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation/Benco Dental Scholarship recipient, with Dean Mark Wolff and Dr. Joan Gluch, Division Chief of Community Oral Health.

Philadelphia — Rising fourth-year student Marie-Elena Cronin (D’20) has been recognized for her community service activities as the recipient of the 2019 Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation/Benco Dental Scholarship. The award is one of 21 DTA Foundation scholarships presented annually to rising third- and fourth-year dental students nationwide, who along with academic excellence, have an established commitment to community service.

“Marie-Elena is so deserving of this recognition; she continues to be extremely committed to serving the community,” says Dr. Joan Gluch, Chief of the Division of Community Oral Health.

Among Cronin’s community activities over the past two years, she has been particularly active with the Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) and the Philadelphia Oral Cancer 5K & Walk. HHI is a multidisciplinary program through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) that provides free education and health services to children living in homeless shelters. Almost every Tuesday night, Cronin has joined with other students and faculty to provide dental screenings and fluoride varnish applications to these children, along with instruction on oral hygiene.

“The most important part of our encounter is educating the children and their parents,” notes Cronin. “Our goal is to give these children the tools and knowledge to set up healthy oral hygiene habits at a formative age. By simply spending a few minutes with each child to educate them on the importance of taking care of their teeth through oral hygiene and diet, we can make a great impact on their lives.”

For the past two years, Cronin has also served as executive director of the Philadelphia Oral Cancer 5K & Walk, a student organized event to build awareness of oral cancer and the importance of screening. This year, the event raised $20,000 to support oral cancer research and drew more than 300 runners and walkers.

“This year, we are very proud to have created the Penn Dental Oral Cancer Research Fund right here at Penn Dental Medicine to support oral cancer research and to help provide maxillofacial prostheses to oral cancer survivors,” adds Cronin. “We are driven to work tirelessly each year by the oral cancer survivors and their families, who come out to support and participate in our race.”

As a DTA Foundation scholarship recipient, Cronin will receive $5,000 in financial support.