On MLK Day, School of Dentistry Volunteers Service for Thousands of Smiles

Students, faculty and staff assemble 2,000 dental-supply kits

From the outside, the UMKC School of Dentistry looked quiet Monday morning, befitting a day when classes were out and its clinics were closed. But inside, the cafeteria and second-floor hallways were abuzz with volunteers doing service befitting Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The volunteers’ mission: assemble 2,000 dental-care supply kits for distribution to points of need throughout the community. It was the second year for the dental school’s MLK Day of Service, and the number of kits was double the output of a year ago.
“It’s great to see everyone here volunteering,” said Shurouk Alkharabsheh, a third-year dental student. “I missed last year and wanted to take part this time. It’s good to do something productive with the day.”
Ryan Greenway, a second-year dental student, agreed: “I enjoy volunteering, and was bummed when I missed the event last year. But now I’m here! It’s also a nice break from our routine.”
Students got the dental-kit day of service going a year ago, and it has had the full support of School of Dentistry leadership. Dean Marsha Pyle was on hand Monday morning and took a brief break from her assembly line to praise the effort.
“I’m grateful that our faculty, staff and students have created this opportunity to do good in the community,” Pyle said. “It’s a team effort — and Kansas City loves its teams! It’s great to see this special effort on this special day, when we don’t have our usual commitments.”
Most of the kits were packed with an average adult in mind, with items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and information on the school’s clinical services and free dental cleanings available to the public. But one station packed kits suited to children, and another included supplies of use to older residents and people with dentures.
“I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas. I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” – Mark Dallas
Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, said the kits were bound for several places, including the City Union Mission, a program to help the homeless that’s on the original site of the dental school. The school also added a sock drive this year, as socks are an often-requested item at some of the locations that receive the dental kits.
Just as the kits will benefit the wider community, the volunteer corps this year drew from outside the dental school. One group came from St. James United Methodist Church, which also was sending volunteers to other locations around Kansas City for MLK Day.
“We’re happy to help here at the School of Dentistry,” said one parishioner, Phyllis Jackson, “and we have other volunteers today at Hospice House, Rose Brooks, Harvesters and other locations to honor the memory of Dr. King.”
Faculty and staff from the School of Dentistry rounded out the volunteers, including Mark Dallas, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences.
“I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas,” said Dallas, who joined the school in 2001 along with his wife, Professor Sarah Dallas, Ph.D. “I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.”
The volunteers had started the day at 8:30 a.m. with a half-hour video on Dr. King’s legacy, and then they made fast work putting the kits together. By 11 a.m., they reassembled to be thanked by Jeffery Primos, director of business affairs, and then to make their first delivery, to nearby Ronald McDonald House.
The project will make a difference for hundreds of people, Primos said, “and embody what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.”

The school’s good work gets noticed!

Find photos from the event here.

Caring for Kids – at the Holidays and Year-Round

The School of Dentistry shows its dedication to caring for children in many ways, including through its pediatric clinic facilities and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Student Club. For the holidays each year, the club gives back to the community by adopting a family through the Salvation Army.

This recent holiday season, Mittens the Snowman was set up in the pediatric clinic area and held tags bearing gift ideas for the adopted family. Students, faculty and friends recruited by the club took the tags and bought the gifts, making for happy holidays for the chosen family.

The club president, fourth-year DDS student Kelsey Lyden, said, “This event has been very special to our club each year. Donations are provided by faculty, students and staff from the entire dental school. It is a great way to bring all students together to support a good cause during the holidays.”

The club’s faculty mentor, Dr. Eileen Cocjin, DDS, clinical associate professor in the school’s Pediatric Dentistry Department, said she suggested the project a few years ago “because I wanted my students to do something that is not dentally related but for the community during the holiday season that would involve making children’s wishes come true.”

Dr. Cocjin added, “There is an obvious benefit to the families and children on the receiving end. I also hope that it will give the students a sense of joy and satisfaction to be able to help families who are less fortunate, one child at a time, one family at a time.”

Some photos here.

2109 Advanced Orthodontic Certificate Recipients Honored

The school’s UMKC Orthodontic Alumni Association hosted a dinner honoring three residents who completed their Advanced Education Certificate Program in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Completing the program as well as requirements for the Oral and Craniofacial Sciences MS degree are Dr. Mary Becker, Dr. Kaylee Bergman and Dr. Laura Moore. Drs. Becker and Bergman plan to practice in the Kansas City area and Dr. Moore will be joining a practice in the Springfield, MO area.

Enjoy photos from the evening, courtesy of Jim Thomas.

 

Dental Explorers Peek into Forensic Dentistry

With the popularity of the many Crime Scene Investigation programs on television, it was no surprise that members of the school’s Dental Explorer post were fascinated by a presentation on forensic dentistry by Michael McCunniff’, DDS, MS. Dr. McCunniff, an extensively trained and experienced forensic dentist, is an Associate Professor Emeritus, former chair of the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and former Director of Outreach programs at University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Dentistry.

In his presentation, Dr. McCunniff shared that Forensic Dentistry is commonly used as the second option for identification of an individual in the absence of clear facial recognition. He is a member of a Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT). DMORT teams are include forensic anthropologists, odonatologists (dentists), pathologists, medical legal investigators, computer specialists, and other support personnel. He showed a number of examples where he was involved in forensic activities both in and out of the country where Americans DMORT teams were called in to help with identification. He also discussed several famous murder cases and investigations in the Kansas City area, including one fascinating case where he assisted homicide detectives identify a murder suspect.
The second segment of the Explorer Post event was led by Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association (SNDA/HSDA) members. They helped conduct mock admission interviews, which are key in the admission and ultimate candidate selection process.

SNDA/HSDA members participating included Kim Kha, Njeri Penda , Meredith Gomes, Lena Adams, Drew Chatters, Yasmeen Qadi, Safa Nawazish and Uyen Hoang. Faculty members Dr. Derek Williams, Dr. Tiffany Tavares and John Cottrell also assisted.

Find photos here.

Staff and Faculty Holiday Lunch a Tasty Treat for All

The School of Dentistry Staff Council and Dean Marsha Pyle hosted staff, faculty and retirees to the school’s the annual holiday lunch, Wednesday, December 18, 2019. All enjoyed games, a traditional holiday lunch, a raffle for door prizes and numerous very popular gift baskets donated by departments. The festivities culminated with group photo of all in their most festive holiday attire. The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry, a charity providing food assistance for those in need within the UMKC community, benefited from generous donations of non-perishable food items. Enjoy photos here.

Annual COOKIE CRUNCH Was a Tasty Success

The annual COOKIE CRUNCH was a tasty success and a great way for staff and faculty to express appreciation for our students and all their hard work this year. The event Dec. 12 helped everyone celebrate as they were finishing finals and wrapping up the semester. A new feature this year was a photo booth, and the cookie contest had a few new categories, too.

Here are the winners!

Best Overall Cookie — Monica Rolf: Sprinkles of Love
Best “Non Cookie” — Stephanie Stewart Towns: S’mores Rice Krispy Treats
Best Student Submission — Anna DeLuca (DH 2020): Anna’s Chocolate Crinkle cookies
Best Faculty Submission — Julie Sutton: Andes Chocolate Cookies
Best Staff Submission — Valorie Moore Porter: Kitchen Sink Cookie
Honorable Mentions:
Bree Boger — Chocolate Chip Cookie
Ellyce Loveless — Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookie
Effie Mitulapolus — Mini Pecan Rolls
Stefan Lofeld — German Red Wine Cake
Dr. Robert Hurst — Triple Chocolate Thunder

Also a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer Pennington, Aaron David, Audriana Thompson, Karen Wilson, Lynn Prine, Breanna Boger, Ellyce Loveless, Richie Bigham, Danita Johnson and Bill Marse for all of their help and advice to keep this event going year after year!

Photos here.

Celebrating Advanced Graduates-To-Be

Graduation for most School of Dentistry students comes in May, but our advanced students fill an important and unusual niche and also often leave us at the end of fall semester. This year, those distinguished students in our Oral & Craniofacial Sciences MS and PhD programs enjoyed a special celebration on Nov. 13, put on by the Office of Research and Graduate Programs. Dr. Mary Becker, Dr. Kaylee Bergman, and Dr. Laura Moore are completing the Advanced Education in Orthodontics certificate program and simultaneously earning a Master of Science in Oral & Craniofacial Sciences. In addition, Erica Jackson, a faculty member at Washburn University, was recognized for completing her PhD in Oral & Craniofacial Sciences. Dr. Becker is from Texas but plans to stay in the Kansas City area to join Fry Orthodontics in Raytown and Lee’s Summit. Dr. Bergman also is planning to practicing in the Kansas City area. Dr. Moore is returning to the Springfield, Missouri, area to join a private practice. Erica Jackson will continue working at Washburn University, where is she is a lecturer in human anatomy and biology.

Our congratulations to all the grads!

Find photos here.

Explorers Student Group Enjoys a Fruitful Demonstration

There are easier ways to cut an apple, but none as high tech as the School of Dentistry’s Dole Laser. That’s what members of the school’s Dental Explorer Post saw in action at their November meeting.
The Explorer Post, a group of high school and college students learning about dentistry, examines a different aspect of profession each month. The latest meeting featured a demonstration of the Dole Laser, typically used for crown preparation and biopsie. But for this demonstration, Kelly Suchman, DDS ’00, AEGD ’01, sliced into an apple.
Suchman, clinical assistant professor and director of the school’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program, told the Explorer Post members that fourth-year dental students at UMKC have a rotation during which they get to use the laser.
The student group, sponsored by the school in collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America Exploring Division, exposes high school and college undergraduates to dentistry and explores whether it’s a good career fit for them. The monthly meetings usually include a guest speaker, food and a hands-on activity, with help from members of the school’s Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association chapter: Rue Erhenede, Mahaam Qadeer, Taylor Johnson, Lena Adams, Drew Chatters Meshal Alborno, Kim Kha, Shurouk Alkharabsheh, Meredith Gomes, Yasmeen Qadi, Safa Nawazish and Uyen Hoang. Faculty members Derek Williams and John L. Cottrell also were on hand to help.

Photos here.

Annual Dinner Honors Scholarship Donors and Recipients

The UMKC School of Dentistry held its annual Scholarship Recognition dinner Monday evening October 7, 2019, at Student Union on the Volker Campus. Hilary Wheat, Senior Director of Development welcomed the audience and then Dean Marsha Pyle presided over the recognition of the scholarship donors and recipients. The School distributed 352 awards to 176 students from 177 endowed scholarship funds, totaling more than $1. 009,315, a 7.56% increase over 2018. Additionally, 22 students received 24 awards from 10 regional and national scholarship funds. This year’s new scholarships included the Dr. Glenn M. Masunaga Scholarship; Dr. Jake McGuire Memorial Scholarship Fund; Dr. P. Nick Rogers Scholarship; Vivian Umaki Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Candid photos from the evening”s events.

Group photos of attendees.

 

Students and Faculty Help Provide Dental Care to Some 250 Area Children at Team Smiles Event at Arrowhead Stadium

Students from UMKC School of Dentistry participated with the Team Smiles event and the Kansas City Chiefs. 16 Dental students and 3 faculty assisted with screening and Radiology to provide dental care to approximately 250 children from the Kansas City metro area. Many of the current Chiefs players also attended and provided emotional support to the children. Participants included Chelsea Runez Brown, Nuvia Lemus-Diaz, Edward Bagtas, Yiou Guo, Allie Moss, Alyssa Kieschnick, Seyyed Mahmoudjafari, Chandler Robertson, Abigail Frazier, Tara Craven, Rachael Gore, Michelle Pace, Elizabeth Mitchell, Madison Riggs, Victoria Ratcliffe, and Micayla Shrimpton along with School of Dentistry faculty Drs. Eileen Cocjin, Becky Smith and Michael McCunniff. Yona Rasynouvong provided care as a dental hygienist.

Photos here.