Culture fest reflects diversity of school

October 7th, 2022

Texas A&M School of Dentistry community came together Thursday, Oct. 6, to enjoy an afternoon filled with food, dancing and to showcase its rich cultural diversity.

“Culture Fest 2022 was a great success,” Prof. Lisa Mallonee, interim dean of academic affairs, says. “Thank you to all students, faculty and staff who joined the festivities. There was a vibrant energy abound on the 6th floor yesterday!”

Dr. Alicia Spence, clinical assistant professor in comprehensive dentistry, who was recently named the new director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, spoke at the event alongside Dr. Lavern Holyfield, executive director of faculty development. They provided partygoers a brief overview of steps the school is taking to continue to be a more welcoming environment for everyone. Other speakers included Dean Lily T. Garcia and Dr. Annie McGowan, vice president of the Office of Diversity at Texas A&M, who both joined via Zoom.

Attendees had an opportunity to learn about diverse cultural and ethnic groups by visiting the many booths set up representing the school’s different student organizations and employee resource groups, including the Hispanic Student Dental Association, the Muslim Student Dental Association, the Asian American Dental Society and the Asian American/Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group, the Student National Dental Association and the Umoja Employee Resource Group, the Women’s Employee Resource Group, and Pride and the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.

As festivalgoers visited each booth, they received a stamp on the culture fest “passport” that they could later enter into a raffle for prizes. Salsa dancing lessons were also provided by Spence and Dr. Janna Burnett, clinical associate professor in restorative sciences, as well as line dancing lessons with Mallonee.

“It was a joy to see so many members of our school family come together to celebrate our different cultures and backgrounds at such a lively event,” Spence says. “I am hopeful that we will continue to collaborate, both in our professional calling and in our efforts to make this school more inclusive.”

More photos of Culture Fest 2022 can be found here.

— Caleb Vierkant