Illustration depicting hands tossing mortar boards into the air with text that reads, "Congrats to our Student Leadership Award winners."

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation is committed to supporting oral health education through partnerships with universities, including funding scholarships, research and campus-run clinics. The average graduating senior will leave dental school with close to $300,000 in student loans – in some cases more. It can take a long time to pay off that kind of debt, which may discourage recent graduates from seeking opportunities to work in underserved communities.

Increasing access to care is a top priority for Delta Dental and our Foundation. We want to recognize students who already show a passion for service through our Delta Dental Student Leadership Award. We asked the deans of dental schools in our 15-state and D.C. service area to identify a graduating senior that exemplifies the following traits:

  1. Leadership skills as demonstrated by the student’s activities and accomplishments during dental school.
  2. Public service commitment as demonstrated by civic and community involvement related to dental service.
  3. Outstanding service or accomplishments in the field of dentistry or related science.

Selected students receive $10,000 from the Foundation as they embark on their dental careers. The hope is that these students will carry their passion for service forward as they begin clinical practice and give back to their communities – whether they set up in an underserved area, work for a clinic that treats vulnerable populations or volunteer in their communities at free mobile or pop up dental clinics.  The 2020 Student Leadership Award Recipients include:

  • Shaun Abrams, University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry
  • Ariel Snell, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine
  • Karan Patel, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
  • Ishita Johal, University of Alabama School of Dentistry
  • Nada Elsadig, Howard University College of Dentistry
  • Yuliya Petukhova, University of Utah School of Dentistry
  • Cherish Dunshee, Roseman University College of Dental Medicine
  • Makayla Gresham, West Virginia University School of Dentistry
  • Hillary D. Strassner, University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston
  • Kelsey Reyes, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry
  • Daniel Ripperger, Texas A&M University College of Dentistry
  • Courtney M. Kozlowski, Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry
  • Marie-Elena Cronin, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
  • Molly Christie, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
  • Jaclyn Richardson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
  • Christina Nunez, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
  • Vanessa Cortinas, New York University College of Dentistry
  • Ali Bounds, University of Mississippi School of Dentistry
  • John (Jack) Lupfer, Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine
  • Katherine Ong, University of Maryland School of Dentistry
  • Alli Beth Blanchard, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry
  • Harrison Taylor Farr, Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University
  • Matthew Dawley, University of Florida College of Dentistry
  • Yescenia Perez, Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
  • Tiffany W. Chang, University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry
  • Sahil Patadia, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California
  • Marwa Elkharsity, University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
  • Hung Nguyen, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry

Congratulations to all the award winners and to the entire graduating class of 2020. We hope that whatever career path you choose, you will commit to increasing access to care and helping the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation further our mission of building caring, resilient communities.