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They Give: 2018 DTA Foundation Scholarship Winners Speak Out—Taylor Velasquez

DTA Foundation scholarship recipient Taylor Velasquez will be graduating from the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health in 2019. Recently, we caught up with him and chatted about volunteer work and the DTA Foundation scholarship.

With all you’re already doing, how difficult is it to find the time to volunteer and why do you think it’s important?
It has been very difficult to fit in more events into my schedule as it fills up, but I always make time for volunteer events that spark my interest and need people to serve. It’s very important for my mental health to give back and to support others that need my help. Giving back to the community was instilled into me at a young age from my parents and today it has progressed as I have become a health professional.
 
What is your favorite type of volunteer work to do?
Working with Special Olympics in any capacity has to be my favorite type of volunteer work. My younger brother, Gabriel, is a Special Olympian in New Mexico, so I’ve been around this community my whole life. They do a great job of incorporating not only the Olympians, but the families as well to be one large family. Now, as a soon-to-be dentist, working with the Special Smiles program I get to use my skills to help out those that may never see a dentist that understands their needs. I look forward to each event in Arizona to see these Olympians become more comfortable with health professionals in their lives.
 
What was your reaction when you found out you’d gotten a DTA Foundation scholarship?
I was ecstatic to receive the news that I received the scholarship from the DTA Foundation. I’m proud and honored to represent my university and family for this scholarship. There are many other great dental students that are out there that could have also won, so I take great pride in respecting this opportunity.
 
How will having the scholarship make a difference to you?
As my student debt racks up day-by-day, this helps put a dent in that ever-growing aspect of my finances. But more specifically I will use these funds for a future volunteer project that will involve a dental mission trip. There are individuals around the world that are not able to receive care, so I would like to bring care to a community that is often overlooked.
 
What would you like to say to the donors who make the scholarship possible?
Thank you! I’m honored that you donate money to this scholarship, as it has helped me in so many ways, not only financially, but also mentally. It has increased my purpose and drive to represent this foundation moving forward and to not take this scholarship lightly.
 
How are you planning to continue your volunteer work after graduation?
I plan on volunteering more when I’m a practicing dentist, as I will be able to provide dental care more readily. It’s exciting to think about, as I have been waiting a long time to be able to use my profession to those that need it the most. I plan on volunteering my time to the special needs community and not only in dentistry, but all other aspects that need attention.