HSDA creates scholarship for members

A robust fundraiser led to surplus funds for this student organization. Here’s more on what its members decided to do with the excess.

May 19th, 2017

Chocolate typodontThe idea came during the 2016 holiday season. Second-year dental student Derrick Pylant made chocolate typodonts for a gift exchange among classmates. (And yes, if you’re envisioning this dental school staple, a model of a patient’s gums and teeth, created with white and dark chocolate as opposed to lab stone, you’re correct.) It caught the eye of fellow D2 and Hispanic Student Dental Association president John Ratliff, who suggested this concept could be replicated just a couple months later for the group’s Valentine’s Day fundraiser.

“They ran with it,” Ratliff says of Pylant and HSDA fundraising chairs Hannah Espitia and Halley Cazort, who recruited a team to help with the effort. The students worked the entire weekend leading up to the holiday, fueling up with pizza dinners as they created the treats, which topped out at more than 135 sold, the equivalent of 270 individual arches.

Alina Garciamendez-Rowold

Alina Garciamendez-Rowold

With approximately 125 members at Texas A&M College of Dentistry, HSDA has enjoyed successful fundraisers as a way to finance community outreach endeavors, but this one put them well above the threshold needed for the year.

It gave leaders an idea.

“We thought, ‘why don’t we give back to the students in our organization?’ I am under the impression that every student could benefit from that kind of help,” Ratliff says.

So they floated the idea out to members through a poll. More than 80 percent voted in favor of the scholarship. By April, the scholarship application was distributed to students. The criteria: Active membership in the chapter, a 3.0 GPA and submission of a CV and short essay. Up for grabs: two $500 scholarships.

Crystal Cuellar

Crystal Cuellar

On May 12, D3 Alina Garciamendez-Rowold and DH1 Crystal Cuellar were awarded the scholarships during the HSDA banquet at Café Salsera in nearby Deep Ellum.

The milestone makes HSDA the first student organization at the College of Dentistry to establish a scholarship for its constituents. It’s fitting for the group, which was voted 2016 National HSDA Chapter of the Year by the Hispanic Dental Association. This year alone the organization coordinated volunteer efforts including 200 oral health screenings at the Binational Health Fair, 50 geriatric oral health screenings during a visit to Dickinson Place, a Dallas independent senior living center, and myriad tooth talks at Alley’s House and Bishop’s Camp, among others.

— Jennifer Fuentes