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2013 DTAF Dental Student Scholarship Program Recipients


(L to R) Eric Chen, Rachel L. D'Souza, Sarah R. Usher, Chelsea E. Wong
The Dental Trade Alliance Foundation awarded four $5,000 dental student scholarships in 2013.  These scholarships are meant to recognize and provide financial support to third or fourth year dental students who have demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry, financial need and a commitment to community service. 

The DTAF/ Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation Dental Student Scholarships were awarded to Sarah R. Usher, a student at A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, and Chelsea E. Wong, a student at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. The DTAF/ The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund Dental Student Scholarships were awarded to Eric Chen, a student at the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, and Rachael L. D’Souza, a student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine.

The DTAF/ The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund Dental Student Scholarships

Mr. Eric Chen will graduate from the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in 2014. He has been active in community service during his tenure as a student including being a part of the New Hope Free Clinic (Compassion Clinic), the Homeless Mobile Clinic, the Nicaragua Mission Trip, and Mary’s Mercy Center among others.

As part of the New Hope Free Clinic project, Mr. Chen saw an opportunity to focus on helping disenfranchised teens.  He recruited 24 volunteer dental students to conduct dental screenings.  After an initial assessment, it became apparent that these teens would benefit from having a special dental program designated just for them, and this began YouthHope.  Now Mr. Chen has an agreement with with the New Hope Free Clinic to treat 2 teens weekly removing them from the general wait list of 800 people.   This program has become a great success at Youth Hope.

“I am grateful that I have worked with truly wonderful people that are equally committed to community service as I am,” said Mr. Chen. “Amazing mentors have shown me that it is possible to do excellent work both in private practice as well as be committed to quality community service. Inspiration comes naturally with the team of volunteers that I work with and I am humbled by their acts of kindness and dedication to the various projects I am also part of. They continue to be a great source of motivation to keep moving forward.”

Ms. Rachel D’Souza is a dedicated dental student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine who believes in the power of community service. She has participated in Miles for Better Smiles, Mission of Mercy Dental Clinics, Flying Doctors Dental Clinic, and the UNLV Veteran’s, Women’s and Children’s Clinics among others.

Having spent part of her childhood in a Catholic Convent being raised by nuns, Ms. D’Souza worked alongside the nuns as they helped the poorest in India.  Ms. D’Souza feels this gave her an early understanding of what it truly means to be compassionate.  She was reunited with her parents at the age of 9 spending the rest of her childhood in Las Vegas, where she received countless opportunities for which she is forever grateful.  Ms. D’Souza credits her many mentors and teachers with her success as she graduated at the top of her class and was offered a scholarship to study at Duke University where she graduated with distinction in Biological Anatomy and Anthropology and English Literature.

“I hope to live a meaningful life by not just pursuing big gestures, but also by focusing on education and appropriate care for patients who need them the most,” Ms. D’Souza said. “I plan to continue to volunteer, both for dental projects and community projects, in the course of my lifetime because I am determined to pay back the support and inspiration that others in my community once showed me.”

DTAF/ Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation Dental Student Scholarships

Ms. Sarah Usher has made community service a vital part of her student experience at A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Mesa, Ariz. She participated in Give Kids a Smile, Day for Special Smiles, the Free Community Health and Wellness Day .  In addition to these projects, Ms. Usher created the NCOHF-ASDOH Students United for America’s ToothFairy.

After communication with faculty and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, Ms. Usher recruited student leaders to develop, implement and promote community service projects aimed at providing preventive services and educating underserved communities. This organization also held fund-raising events in an effort to start a grant opportunity for individuals who cannot afford to pay for dental treatment.

“Community service is one main force in my life that keeps me motivated,” said Ms. Usher. “The people who I meet and the lives that I touch, the lessons that I learn, and the challenges that are presented to me are all pieces of motivation that make me continue to strive to be the dentist that the community asks me to be.”

Ms. Chelsea Wong came highly recommended by the faculty at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry. She is involved in the Oral Health and Education Program-Tenderloin Community School, Camp Mendocino of the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, the Science and Education Partnership, and the Painting Healthier Smiles Project among others.

Ms. Wong independently started an oral health education program at the Tenderloin Community School located in the high-crime neighborhood of the Tenderloin in San Francisco. She was responsible for applying for a three-year grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation in order to fund the educational activities. She contacted various teachers at the Tenderloin School, and Mrs. Stacy Joe was the most enthusiastic about the program. With funding from Osher, she visited Mrs. Joe’s third grade class 3 to 4 times per quarter and taught them about dentistry and science topics. For the next two years of dental school, she plans on continuing to teach Mrs. Joe’s third grade classes.

“I would like to incorporate community service into my full time dental career by volunteering at outreach events on the weekends with student organizations, just like how my supervising UCSF dental faculty are doing right now at the outreach events that I organize,” said Ms. Wong. “I would also like to take a couple days during each week to teach at UCSF and continue to give back to others in my community. With a background as a TA, I love explaining concepts to others, and in my full time dental career, I plan on coming back to UCSF one day and giving back to others through education.”

About the DTAF/Sullivan Family Foundation Dentistry Scholarships and the DTAF/Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund Dentistry Scholarships


In 2013 the DTAF selected four third or fourth year dental student to receive a $5,000 scholarship to be applied towards tuition and fees.  This will increase to nine in 2014.  Each U.S. dental school dean may nominate one student from their school. All applications from each dental school must be submitted by the dean’s office.

Criteria for eligibility are determined by the applicant's demonstrated financial need, academic standing, and history of charitable work. Applicants must be entering their thirdor fourth year of a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

About Dental Trade Alliance Foundation (DTAF)

DTAF’s mission is to improve the access to, and productivity of, the oral healthcare system by identifying, nurturing, and leveraging promising projects. Its vision is to be the premier foundation in oral healthcare, by attracting and supporting innovative initiatives that directly improve access to care for millions of North Americans annually.