2022 Delta Dental Community Scholars Recognized for Community Service
Philadelphia — Four Penn Dental Medicine students have been named 2022 Delta Dental Community Scholars, each receiving a sizeable scholarship in recognition of their community service, academic achievement, and future plans to work with vulnerable populations after graduation. Since its inception in 2019, the Scholars program has dispersed $287,000 in support of 15 talented Penn Dental Medicine students who have expressed a commitment to helping expand access to oral healthcare for hard to reach populations. This year’s recipients include Shan Yu (D’22), Diya Sabrina Chandra (D’22), Viviana Portillo (D’22), and Alisa Lee (D’22).
Shan Yu (D’22)
Yu plans to pursue community-based dentistry and was active in community outreach throughout her dental school experience. Among her activities, she volunteered at the United Community Clinic, a free, student-led assessment clinic in West Philadelphia, and was part of the School’s First Five Honors program, which focuses on dental care to children 5 years of age or under and educates parents of the importance of dental care from an early age. She is one of 10 members of the Class of 2022 in the Clinical Honors program working on sophisticated cases involving implants and other advanced procedures, and is also a member of the Community Health Honors program. As a third-year student, Yu was Vice President of the School’s Implant Society, President of the Chinese Dental Student Association, and Treasurer of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry program at Penn Dental Medicine. Yu recently matched to a postgraduate GPR program.
Diya Sabrina Chandra (D’22)
Chandra was among a small cohort of students selected to participate in the School’s Dental Care Center for Vulnerable Populations, which provides dental care to individuals who have undergone various types of trauma, including domestic violence, violent conflict, and refugee status. She is also a Community Oral Health Honors student and has created nutritional resources to help patients with chronic health conditions make informed food choices. From her essay to this program, Chandra voiced a passion about helping children and families make decisions regarding food choices, physical activity, and healthy lifestyle behaviors that can empower them to take control of their health. Chandra is headed to a postgraduate residency in pediatric dentistry.
Viviana Portillo (D’22)
Portillo has excelled as a student leader at Penn Dental Medicine. She served as the chapter President of the Hispanic Student Dental Association and Vice President of Alpha Omega Dental Society in her third year and has represented the School at the American Student Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association Student Diversity Leadership Program. A Community Honors candidate, she has been active in a variety of ways with the School’s community dental partner, Puentes de Salud, which provides healthcare to Philadelphia’s rapidly growing Latinx immigrant population, including dental care in the School’s care center embedded in Puentes de Salud. Portillo’s goal is a career in general dentistry, and she has already been recruited to join a clinic in a health profession shortage area after graduation.
Alisa Lee (D’22)
Lee will graduate this May with honors in Community Oral Health and Research. She is involved in the First Five program focused on the oral health of children 5 years of age and under. In this program, she initiated and recruited dental students to conduct a retrospective research project studying the relationship between the age at first dental visit, caries risk and prevalence, and preventive treatments provided in the clinic. Originally a member of the Class of 2021, Lee was selected to participate in the highly competitive Medical Research Scholars Program at the National Institutes of Health, where she spent academic year 2019-20 studying the oral health of medically underserved patients with rare syndromes. She served as a board member of the student chapter of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, and recently worked on a project to study the relationship between caries prevalence and BMI in patients with disabilities. She has also actively served as a mentor to high school students in West Philadelphia. Lee will be entering a pediatric dentistry residency at Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard University after graduation.