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Q&A with 2017 Scholarship Winner Cayla Ray

DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Cayla Ray, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health – A.T. Still University

“While many things have changed in my life, there is one thing has remained the same, and that is my love for helping others,” Ray said. “I never imagined that I would have accomplished as much as I have in such little time; and while getting into dental school has been one of my greatest accomplishments, I am more proud of the privileges that come with the title. As a pre-clinic dental student, I will continue to provide patient education and free dental supplies whenever possible. Upon entering clinic, I will strive to educate patients and provide the best care possible to those in need; and when graduation comes, I will search for a place that needs my knowledge and expertise. Dental school may be my greatest feat thus far, however, I am confident that it is but a stepping-stone to far greater accomplishments as a dentist in my community.”

Dental school is a very busy time, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?

Community service has never really been a choice for me. It wouldn’t matter if I had something planned for every hour of my day, community service would find its way into my schedule. Everyone has their escape and mine just so happens to be giving back to my community. No matter how stressed I am volunteer work serves as a reality check and reminds me just how blessed I truly am.

What is your favorite community volunteer activity?

My absolute favorite volunteer activity thus far has been the establishment of a local chapter of a non-profit pediatric dental organization known as Students United with America’s Tooth Fairy. My favorite activity through this organization was bringing HPV education to a local Oral Cancer Walk. This event was a special day for many reasons. Volunteers had the opportunity to perform free oral cancer screenings, pass out free dental supplies, and educate parents and their children on the importance of HPV vaccinations and its association with oral cancer. Not only was this event important for patient education and oral cancer awareness, but it also showed me the importance of associating oral health with many other health related issues.

Why do you think it’s important for the oral health profession to come together and support the community like you are doing now?

No matter where you go, a big city or a rural town, there is always someone who needs help. By joining together, especially on a consistent basis, it becomes easier to reach those in need. Not to mention, as health professionals, we tend to learn a lot from each other. Therefore, by joining efforts and working in the community, we tend to not only enrich the lives of others, but we also enrich our own lives in the process.

How will having this scholarship help you as you finish school?

It’s no secret that dental school is expensive! Therefore, being awarded the DTA scholarship will help me in more ways than one. One way that this scholarship will help with school is through my newfound love of mission trips. Student loans can stop many people from participating in mission work, however, this past July I took a risk and borrowed a little extra money so that I could attend my first trip. This money will help cover those costs, as well as another trip next July. I truly believe that what comes around goes around and I can’t wait to use this money to continue helping others. I also foresee this scholarship funding travel expenses, whether it be my rotations during fourth year or interviews for specialty programs – these funds will make a huge difference.

Is there a message you’d like to pass along to the people who donate to the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation and make these scholarships possible?

Thank you, beyond words, for your support. While many of us give back because it’s what we love to do, scholarships like this have a way of opening up doors for even greater opportunities.