Chords of achievement
High school seniors in the TAMBCD-sponsored Future Dentist Club receive a special graduation honor. Next stop: the predental track at their respective universities.
With little more than a month left until commencement, high school senior members of the Future Dentist Club gathered before an audience of family and Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry faculty, staff and student volunteers to receive a special graduation regalia accessory.
The 12 senior FDC members are the first metroplex-area students to receive the burgundy and gray honor chords symbolizing their participation in the TAMBCD-run club, which started in 2009.
On April 12, senior Jessica Bragg, was one who attended a reception on the 17th floor of Baylor University Medical Center’s Roberts Hospital to receive her honor chord. She learned about the club a year ago through her mentoring role with Dr. Jon Clemetson, ’02, a clinical assistant professor. The organization’s hands-on lab activities at the dental school coupled with community service and leadership opportunities — Bragg is the FDC social chair — helped her decide what she wants to do after receiving her diploma.
“FDC provided me the assurance to know that dentistry is my future. I have been further motivated to make sure that everything I do will allow me to make dentistry my career,” says Bragg, who plans to attend the University of Texas at Dallas in the fall and join its predental student organization.
As part of TAMBCD’s Bridge to Dentistry program, an initiative that has reached 80,000 students ranging from prekindergarten to college, the Future Dentist Club was created to expose fourth through 12th graders to dentistry and provide a closer look at dental school life through interactions with current students. Lab activities that simulate sealant application and working with dental crowns give potential students a feel for the dexterity required of dentists. A tertiary benefit is an added edge with admissions to undergraduate predental programs, and eventually, dental school.
It’s where Akeira Warner, also an FDC senior, hopes to be four years from now. She’ll be a freshman at Stephen F. Austin State University in the fall, and a major in biology or chemistry will be her first step toward pursuing a career in general dentistry and maybe even further study in forensic odontology.
Warner learned about FDC a year ago through her participation in the Summer Predental Enrichment Program, also a component of the college’s pipeline and outreach initiatives.
“I think of FDC as a continuation of the summer program,” Warner says. “FDC helped me realize how hard and competitive dental school is,” she adds. “Without it, I wouldn’t know what I was up against. I thank Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry for the experience because now I believe I am fully prepared.”—Jenny Fuentes