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What Black History Month means to me – New Dentist Blog

by adminjay

Azizat Adediran is a third-year dental student at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville. She is the president of the American Dental Education Association chapter at the school and vice president of the Class of 2024. Ms. Adediran is passionate about dental education, volunteering and research. Meharry’s motto, “Worship of God through Service of Mankind,” resonates with her and her mission as a dental student and in life. As someone who enjoys doing community service for the Ewell Neil Dental Research Organization, she regularly organizes community service projects in which students can participate. Ms. Adediran hosted an event to set up oral health stations for middle school children at a local middle school and also participated in the annual Happy Healthy Halloween, where she provided youth in the neighboring Nashville community with healthy snacks and games related to oral health. In addition, the Ewell Neil Dental Research Organization partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to deliver canned goods to the underserved. Ms. Adediran and others were able to deliver 72 pounds of donations.

February is Black History Month. During this time, the U.S. honors the contributions and struggles of African Americans throughout history. In recognition of Black History Month, Ms. Adediran participated in a Q&A for the New Dentist blog. Below are her responses.

Q: Why do you want to become a dentist?

A: As a first-generation college student from a low-income background, I want to become a dentist because I look forward to giving back to low-income disadvantaged communities. I want to be an example and inspire other Black girls that they can do whatever they put their mind to. As a future Black dentist, I contribute to Black excellence and will become part of the 3% of Black dentists in the U.S.

Q: What does Black History Month mean to you as a Black dental student?

A: As a Black dental student, Black History Month means highlighting and celebrating the success and contributions of Black Americans who have come before us and those who are presently impacting the world, while also providing hope for those who will make their mark in the future. As a Black woman in dental school, I, too, look forward to changing lives by relieving patients from dental pain and creating beautiful and healthy smiles that will contribute to increased self-esteem and confidence. In addition, as a Black dentist, I want to make an impact that is greater than myself because Black history has demonstrated and shown the amount of greatness we possess. We continue to advance in culture and society by dismantling oppressive systems. As a Meharrian, we are on the front lines helping diverse communities in any way possible, especially for underrepresented or marginalized communities.

Q: What steps do you think the dental profession can take to welcome and support more Black dentists?

A: In order to welcome more Black dentists in the dental profession, we need to address the injustices and inequalities that our community still faces to this day. We do have a lack of diversity in the dental field, as only 3% of dentists in the United States are Black. Mentorship is an important aspect in increasing diversity. I believe a mentorship program that matches pre-dental Black students with current dental students/dentists can help Black students become successful dental students. Representation is important in the oral health field because Black patients are more likely to visit professionals in their local community. Increasing the number of dentists will help increase the amount of dental care provided.

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