Black History Month: Dr. Smith
Dr. Carmen Smith, Smith Family Dentistry, Dallas
Professional degrees: BA, 1992; DDS, 1996; MBA, 2009
Years you held Dallas County Dental Society president position: 2017-2018
What being the “first” in that role meant to you: Being the first Black president of the Dallas County Dental Society was very exciting and, at the same time, a little intimidating. Although the organization was over 100 years old, it was at a point in our society when racial, ethnic, cultural and sexual orientation conversations were bursting at the seams, and DCDS was making a shift to diversity and inclusion. I was very grateful to be in a position to be a face for the organization’s shift, be a conduit to underrepresented groups to encourage active participation, and let our voices be heard.
What your current role means to you and how it has been groundbreaking: I currently serve as the chair of the DCDS Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This was a goal of the DCDS’s strategic plan, and I was very honored to be able to get it off the ground. It started as a task force and has now become a full committee of the society. It has been an incredible experience to discuss and highlight issues that underrepresented groups face in dentistry. The committee is charged with identifying and creating opportunities for underrepresented members of DCDS, and for organized dentistry to feel that their voices are a necessary part of the success of the organization.
Best dental school memory: All-you-can-eat crawfish on Wednesdays with classmates
Do you still keep in touch with classmates? Yes, I do. There are still several of us who remain in the DFW area. Many of us are on social media and, sometimes, we will plan gatherings during the Southwest Dental Conference.
Your advice, wish and hope for future Black students: Be engaged and stay engaged after your dental school years. Get a mentor(s). I hope that your experience in dental school will be positive, fulfilling and one that will make you feel compelled to give back in a manner you see fit to the next generation.
Obstacle you hope the next Black generation will avoid: I hope the next generation will not continue to carry the label of “underrepresented.” I want to see them celebrated, not for being the “first Black _______,” but simply celebrated and honored because of their valuable contributions to making a greater society.
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