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Q&A with 2017 Scholarship Winner Ronnie Marquez

DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Ronnie Marquez, The University of Missouri-Kansas City

Dental school is a very busy time, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?
My passion to help others originates from my upbringing, which has provided me with a unique understanding of the underserved/disadvantaged community.  Raised by a single mother in a neighborhood notorious for being unforgiving, I was originally motivated to pursue higher education to escape my environment in an attempt to overcome difficult circumstances that many fall victim too.   Escaping my environment was my original motivation, but through my Dental education and the opportunities it gave me to work toward improving the lives of others, I now realize that there is great value in my understanding of the needs that suppress these communities and I am now motivated by my ability and the passion I have to help those in need.

What is your favorite community volunteer activity?
My favorite community volunteer activity involves working with the TeamSmile Organization because it encompasses three of my greatest passions: dentistry, community improvement, and sports.  This organization buses children in from the inner city to professional and college sporting complexes to enjoy a unique experience with their favorite team and some of their favorite players.  While at the event the children are taught about oral hygiene, they receive a dental screening and based on the screening they are provided with dental services that include x-rays, fillings, sealants, cleanings, etc. The excitement of going to an event like this provides the children with excitement that they typically don’t have going to the dentist.

Why do you think it’s important for the oral health profession to come together and support the community like you are doing now?
A smile is a profound gift.  A smile cleanses the soul, it warms the heart, it heals the body, and while doing so, it also projects the same soul-cleansing, heart-warming, body-healing feeling onto others that witness it.  As oral health professionals, we have a great opportunity to truly make a difference in our community by simply making others smile.

How will having this scholarship help you as you finish school?
Due to the financial burden of dental school, my mentors have advised me to work toward paying off loans before I plan on taking less money to work in a public health clinic, get in more debt to open a private practice in an underserved community or dedicate my time to outreach programs.   This scholarship helps limit my financial burden so that as I finish school, I can focus my career on helping those in need.

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?
It is the efforts of individuals like yourself that truly motivate me to succeed and contribute to the improvement of society and the lives of others.  I cannot thank you enough for your generosity, and I want you to know that you are an inspiration. I am truly grateful for the influence you have had on my life and education.   Thank you.