Al-Sayyad wins ADEA scholarship

April 14th, 2023

Reem Al-Sayyad was one of only 12 predoctoral dental students across the United States and Canada to win a 2023 ADEA/Haleon Preventive Dentistry Scholarship.

The $2,500 prize was announced at the 2023 ADEA Annual Session and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon, last month.

“I was actually very shocked,” said Al-Sayyad, D2. “When I applied, I didn’t expect to win it, but I thought it would be a learning opportunity.”

Al-Sayyad explained the application process included writing an essay about her thoughts on preventive dentistry and the steps she’s taken to focus on it.

“It was a good exercise to explore my own thoughts on the issue,” she said. “I thought if I wrote about it then I might have a better understanding of what preventive dentistry really is. I got to learn from it and see where I stand on things.”

Al-Sayyad grew up in Abilene, Texas, which is in Taylor County. She lost her grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease when she was a little girl, and that, in combination with her father’s career as a doctor, inspired her to pursue a degree in the medical field. She shadowed both doctors and dentists before deciding dentistry was the best fit for her.

In a letter to the scholarship selection committee, Dean Lily T. García said Al-Sayyad is a self-starter and highly motivated.

“She focuses and sets high standards for herself, working diligently to earn goals based on her own merit,” the letter states. “Reem continuously demonstrates problem-solving abilities, a tireless work ethic, maturity and attention to details.”

She has volunteered at numerous health fairs and education events and is a designated peer mentor. In Al-Sayyad’s first year of dental school, she was selected as a research student in the Texas Recruits and Retains program where she conducted research focusing on federally qualified health centers and the transportation services patients needed, all of which was related to alleviating issues with access to care. This research and work placed first in the school’s 2022 Research Day. As a second-year student, she is actively working on a new project examining the issue of vaping in incoming medical and dental professionals due to the influence of social media.

Al-Sayyad encourages other students to believe in themselves.

“Don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “I didn’t think I had a chance to win, but looking back, why did I doubt myself? Always believe you can do it.”

— Kristen Tribe

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