Penn Dental Medicine Students Host Black History Month Celebration
Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine’s Student National Dental Association (SNDA) chapter brought together students, staff, and faculty to celebrate Black History Month, hosting its annual celebration event on February 20. Approximately 140 members of the Penn Dental Medicine community were in attendance along with guests from other schools on Penn’s campus and the community.
Dr. Horace Delisser, Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, gave the keynote speech, introduced by current SNDA president Joanna Ferguson (D’20). The program continued with Dr. Beverley Crawford, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Penn Dental Medicine, recognizing fourth-year dental students Sara Daniel (D’20) and Lilia Sanchez (D’20) for Excellence in Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion. In addition, members of the SNDA highlighted the positive influence of key staff and faculty, presenting recognition awards to Anita Woods, Academic Coordinator in the Division of Community Oral Health; John Knox, Instrument Sterilization Attendant; and Dr. Francis Mante, Associate Professor, Division of Restorative Dentistry.
A special photography exhibit was also developed for the event, featuring 12 student portraits with accompanying bios and visionary statements. Fourth-year student Elaf Saeed (D’20) curated the exhibit with the photography by prosthodontics resident Dr. Stephen Cross (GD’20). The exhibit remains on display within the School, hanging in the area outside the William Cheung Auditorium in the lower concourse of the School’s Evans Building, where other student art has been featured as part of the Gallery 240 project Saeed helped to organize last year to showcase student artwork.
“The exhibit embodies how vibrant the students of color are at Penn Dental Medicine,” says Ferguson. “My hope is that those who experience the gallery can understand how our individual histories layer together and contribute to our formed relationships.”
Following the formal program, attendees enjoyed dancing, mingling, and refreshments. Ferguson credits the success of the event to her enthusiastic committee of peers.
“It was remarkable to see the success of this year’s Black History Month event. We strived to execute a school-wide event to celebrate Black culture and history, while simultaneously expressing our students’ creativity and diverse backgrounds,” says Menty Bayleyen, Associate Director of Admissions and faculty advisor of the SNDA. “I am very proud of my advisees and encourage our community to visit Gallery 240 to get a glimpse of the beauty and creativity of our SNDA members.”