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Meet The 2016 Scholarship Recipients

Top: Amir Aryaan, Jean Calvo, Michelle Farnoush, Rushelle Julien, Thuy Nguyen
Bottom: Jessica Sliger, Jordan Telin, Joshua Vert, James Younan, ArNelle Wright


We are thrilled to announce the 10 outstanding dental student recipients of $5,000 DTA Foundation scholarships. The students come from all over the country, but share a commitment to helping their communities and academic excellence.

Please join us in congratulating the 2016 scholarship recipients:


DTA Foundation/Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation Scholarship Winners


James Marc Younan - A.T. Still University, Arizona school of Dentistry and Oral Health

“Community service is something that I was not too familiar with growing up,” Mr. Younan wrote in his scholarship application. “My first real experience with community service was in high school when I volunteered at a local hospital. Every week, I would go to the hospital and attend to the newborn babies. I was placed in the department where abandoned newborns and drug babies were cared for. It was a life changing experience. From then on, I became hooked on this thing they called community service. I began to volunteer in other departments in the hospital: patient escorts, the ER, and the geriatrics department. Community service allows us to stop thinking strictly about ourselves and to help those who are less fortunate. I don't need to get paid to help clean a park for kids to play in, to feed those who are homeless, and/or to help other people in need. I do it because I love it.”

He plans to get his master’s in public health and help connect the dots between the health care field and the general public.

“With my education, passion, and life experiences, I feel confident in my career choice,” he said. “Dentistry is my field of work and helping others is my life.”

Rushelle Julien - Meharry Medical College

One childhood visit to the dentist, and Rushelle Julien was hooked on dentistry.

“There was no doubt that I was meant for dentistry and that dentistry was meant for me,” she stated.

The equipment, the techniques, the ability to help others—all of it spoke to Ms. Julien. Today, she has plans to become a dentist and bridge the gap of disparity by starting up remote clinics in impoverished areas, both local and international.

“In these clinics I plan to train members from the community in the basics of oral care so that they can in turn spread this knowledge to their community,” she said in her application. “I plan to setup a network of both physicians and dentists who rotate through the clinics to offer care. It is my goal to provide healthcare, hope, and inspiration future to generations.”

Joshua Christopher Vert - University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry

Being raised on an Indian Reservation, obtaining dental care wasn’t always easy for Mr. Vert. The rare visits he had made a positive, lasting impact.

“I do not know whether it was the No Cavities Treasure Box or the sound of the drills that I loved so much; however, as early as sixth grade I was telling my parents that I wanted to be a dentist,” he said.

Mr. Vert plans to move with his wife and children to the communities where he was raised—Indian reservations in the western United States.

“By working with the reservation leaders I would also like to create a mobile clinic to bring dental care to the far ends of the reservations,” he wrote in his application. “Most people living on the reservation have to depend on friends and extended family members for rides into the more populous areas. With a current cancellation rate of nearly 60% at the reservation clinics in southern California, a mobile clinic would allow me to serve the community and help improve their overall oral health.”

Jean Calvo - University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry

One toothbrush and an ‘I’m-a-Dentist’ Barbie set Ms. Calvo on a path to a career as a dentist. Growing up in an economically disadvantaged home motivated her to one day help others who also struggle financially.

“Following the completion of my Master of Public Health and dental degree I plan to commit myself to a career in dental public health and community dentistry. In this role I will work to affect change on an individual, community, statewide, and national level,” Ms. Calvo wrote in her application. “My goals as a practitioner are to reduce and eliminate oral health disparities in children and reduce the great burden of oral disease in the U.S. I aspire to achieve this tremendous goal by working at the patient, educational, professional and policy levels. I plan to do this by integrating preventative oral health care into primary care, generating innovative reimbursement start gives to motivate dental professionals to concentrate on prevention and eliminating barriers to care to increase dental care utilization rates among the most vulnerable populations.”

Amir Aryaan - University of Michigan School of Dentistry

Mr. Aryaan’s journey from Iran to the University of Michigan took him through Germany and Canada where he learned new languages, navigated new cultures and discovered a passion for dentistry. His career choice allows him to combine his love for fixing things, a desire to free people from pain, and an opportunity to help those that are less fortunate.

“I have lived in different countries amongst people with different cultures and languages, yet the universal trend between all these countries is the importance of community service and voluntarism,” he said in his application. “It is something that is embedded in all of us as humans, that we are social and need the social interaction with other humans, leading to formation of all the cultures and languages of the world. As it has been beautifully depicted by the Persian poet Sa'adi as early as 13th century, the unity of mankind is an essential part of being a human.”

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

“I think as a future dentist, I have been blessed to have a career that I enjoy, that is prosperous, and influential. However, as with any privilege, there comes responsibility. The way I want to serve my community in the future is similar to now, and in accordance to my blessings.”

Jessica Sliger - University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry

After a career of teaching at-risk students, Ms. Sliger decided she wanted to make a different kind of positive impact on her community by becoming a dentist.

“I wouldn’t be me without reaching a hand out to others,” she stated in her application. “It’s a part of who I am, and I feel thankful to the dental school for giving me the many chances to serve. I smile knowing that I am already making a positive impact on my campus. Someday when I work in a community clinic, I will need to advocate for my patients and their families. I will be responsible for building awareness in the community as well as for meeting with political figures about how to best fund the services for my population of patients.”

Michelle Farnoush - University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine

For Ms. Farnoush, dentistry is an inter-generational team sport, like her beloved hockey or volleyball, where winning means not just a better smile, but better overall health.

“Dentistry is an opportunity for me to change the perceptions of children, their parents and grandparents with one single appointment,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “It has the power to educate, integrate, adapt and produce results in a way that patients can tangibly see and feel, which is often missing in other health professions. This, to me, represents the essence of my outreach efforts at our school and our profession: encompassing the desire to serve and make a difference in our community, one appointment at a time.”

DTA Foundation/Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund/Crown Seating Scholarship Winners


Jordan J. Telin - University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

For Mr. Telin, it was the wide variety of opportunities to give back that has really made life at the University at Buffalo stand out and inspire him.

“Coming to dental school in Buffalo, was like finding a gold mine of outreach opportunities,” he wrote in his application. “I don't know if it's something in the water, but people here are very selfless and dedicated to the cause. We have weekly opportunities [to] volunteer, and I try to do as much as my schedule allows. I particularly enjoy attending educational sessions for new and expectant mothers at different women’s centers. There is so much that they are unaware of, and they are inundated with information on their newborn already. It’s nice to have those conversations and help them understand the importance of proper oral hygiene at home. All of these experiences have helped to shape my life in dental school, and help me develop ideas of how I would like to give back in my career.”

He plans to become a pediatric dentist and continue his outreach and community service.

Thuy Nguyen - University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry

After working as a chemist, Mr. Nguyen found himself missing the vibrancy of interacting with people. Even as much as he loved the science aspect of his profession, he knew he needed to make a career change.

“As I shadow a local dentist, I discover that the field offered everything I wanted plus more,” he stated. “Dentistry allowed me to continue using my science knowledge to work with my hands and treat patients. I love [t]he fact that one of the vital roles of a dentist is to instill confidence in his patients.”

He hopes to share that confidence as he continues his community service as a student and, in the future, as a dentist.

“Dentistry provides me with a lot of opportunities to do what I love,” he stated in his application. “It lets me work with my hands, keeps me on my toes with the science, provides me with the opportunity to develop a rapport with my community, but most importantly it gives me the opportunity to give back to those around me.”

DTA Foundation Scholarship


ArNelle R. Wright - University of Florida

The Daily Dentist is in. Ms. Wright’s alter-ego is as an oral health proponent on social media and at community events. It’s the natural outcome for a woman who lost seven teeth to decay in high school and has been dedicated to help improve oral health for all ever since. It’s a commitment she plans to continue after graduation.

“I want to take time away from the practice and return into the schools with my team and do things like the Lessons in a Lunch box program, or return to the developing countries for dental/medical missions,” she wrote in her application. “I also plan to continue my role as The Daily Dentist, and continue doing workshops at local community centers, churches, and other places where I'm invited.”

The purpose of the DTA Foundation Scholarship is to provide financial support to a third or fourth year dental student who has demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry, financial need, and a proven commitment to community service through a strong history of charitable work. Each year the DTA Foundation selects 10 dental students to receive a $5,000 scholarship to be applied towards tuition and fees. Each U.S. dental school dean may nominate one student from their school.

In 2012, the Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation created a restricted fund with the DTA Foundation to support its efforts to improve dental education in the United States. The donation was made to honor the late Robert Sullivan and his love for the dental industry coupled with his strong connection to dental education. Thanks to continued funding as well as additional contributions from the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund and Crown Seating, the DTA Foundation has been able to increase the number of scholarships given out each year.

The overwhelming generosity of DTA Foundation supporters are what help make it possible to provide these scholarships. If you haven’t already, please consider donating an item to the upcoming DTA Foundation Auction. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auction will go to help provide funding for innovative dental program grants, student scholarships and other DTA Foundation supported programs.