Dental Dreams and Activated Alumni

Scholarships inspire students and future giving


UMKC School of Dentistry is known for encouraging its stu­dents to achieve their fullest potential as oral health care provid­ers. The alumni do their part as well, as their generous scholarship support inspires students to keep striving. For dental student Kathryn Roe, that means bringing much needed dental care back to rural communities. For fellow dental student Ryan

Greenway, it’s to pursue a post-grad career in oral surgery. The scholarships alumna Dr. Julianna Ervin received inspired her to return the favor. Receiving and providing these financial resources, the students and alumni help strengthen the future of dentistry.

Small-town support system

People have always been a prior­ity for dental student Kathryn Roe (D.D.S. Class of ’24). “I knew from an early age that whatever I did for a career, I wanted to help people.”

Roe’s desire to give back is centered in the community support system she grew up with in Herington, Kansas, her hometown.

“I’ve always felt the strong support, not just from my family but everyone in my community: my school, my church, my neighbors,” said Roe. “You know the saying, ‘It takes a village.’ Well it literally took a village to raise me.”

When she graduates from UMKC, she plans to return to Herington to help provide much-needed dental care to its rural community. According to Roe, the scholarships she received from the Rinehart Foundation are enabling her to pursue that dream.

She is well aware that working in a small community likely means sacri­ficing some pay and potential profits larger-city dentists can make. And that reality likely means taking a bit more time to pay off her student loans.

Scholarships enable students to reach their fullest potential and help instill a passion for giving upon graduation.

“But I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Roe. “Getting these scholarships takes some financial load off, and I can serve exactly who I want to serve: anyone who walks in my door.

And that is awesome.” Her interest in both dentistry and giving back to her hometown began

in high school. As a senior, she led underclassmen in a project to teach elementary students the importance of day-to-day dental hygiene. “That’s where I really started to see the impact I could have, in particular with my small community,” said Roe. “I learned more about the field through shadowing and I fell more and more in love with everything dentistry could provide.” Working with the young students, she saw the importance and results of preventive care, something that has stayed with her through dental school. She hopes she can be a similar agent of change for Herington, as well.

“I want to be a driving force for preventative care in these rural areas,
“I knew from an early age that whatever I did for a career, I wanted to help people.”

so patients aren’t just seeing the dentist when it’s urgent,” Roe said. “If I can shift that perspective, I’ll truly see the benefit of what I’m doing in the community.” Roe is the first in her family to pursue dentistry. In fact, no one in her family works in health care of any kind. “But my mom is a seasoned accountant,” Roe said, “so she’s ready to not only be a patient, but also take on the business side of things.”

Roe says both the support of her family and the support of the alumni drive her forward to achieve her goal. “These scholarships really do change lives,” she said. “The financial commitment that comes with den­tal school can be overwhelming, but knowing that people you have never met want to support your dreams, that is so meaningful.”

One job is better than three

Dental student Ryan Greenway

(D.D.S. Class of ’22) has aspirations of continuing his dental education and pursuing an advanced education degree in oral surgery.

“There’s a significant need out there for oral surgeons,” said Greenway. “They have a massive impact on peo­ple’s lives and having that kind of impact I think is cool.”

But to have time to follow that pur­suit, Greenway needed to work fewer jobs outside of school. That is where his scholarships came in.

“Last year, I had about three jobs, but this year I cut it down to just one,” Greenway said. “Scholarships absolutely enabled me to lighten my workload outside of school.”

Currently, he’s in the application pro­cess for oral surgery programs. The costs can add up, so the financial sup­port he’s received in pursuing his D.D.S. will give him the best shot of continuing his path. “It takes off a massive burden with all the application fees,” he said. “It helps ensure that I’ll be able to take that next step in my dental career.”

For Greenway, what first drew him to dentistry was all the activity that hap­pens in a dental office day to day. He knew he wanted to use his hands and avoid being stuck at a desk.

“When I shadowed other dentists, I liked that there was energy all day,” Greenway said. “They were always moving and they seemed to genuinely enjoy the job.”

He’s the first person in his fam­ily to go to dental school, and he has their full support. Nevertheless, they were a bit surprised about his enthu­siasm for the industry. “My dad is a bank examiner and my mom works in nonprofit, so they don’t quite know what to make of all of this.”

Before Greenway moves on to the next phase of his career, there is one more goal he hopes to achieve. “My friends and I have made a mission to try out as many Mexican restaurants as we can before we graduate,” he said. “It’s been a weekly ritual for us so far, but we’ve got a ways to go.”

pay the bills. But it didn’t take long for the lure of the links to make her a golfer as well.

demanding time; while you’re worry­ing about school you’re also thinking about how to pay bills and having enough to cover living expenses,” she said.

With some of that financial burden lifted, Ervin’s gratitude drove her to look for ways to give back to the alumni who supported her. Participating in the annual Dental Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament, seemed like a perfect fit.

“As a student, I had some nerves play­ing with the faculty and alumni since I hadn’t been playing that long, but it’s great to see everyone outside of school having fun,” she said. “My shots could get eventful, but thankfully my team wasn’t counting on mine every time.”

Ervin has continued to stay connected to the school through the golf tourna­ment, where she sponsors a team each year. “It’s important for me to return the favor that I received as a student,” she said, referring to her scholarships. “I want to alleviate some of the stu­dents’ financial burden as well.”

According to Ervin, dentistry is a field where it’s easy to fall into being in your own professional bubble, and it’s easy to get isolated. Staying con­nected with UMKC has helped her stay up to date on dental trends, but also support future dentists. She urges all her fellow alumni to do the same.

“It’s important for me to return the favor that I received as a student. I want to alleviate some of the students’ financial burden as well.”


Golf gives back

For alumna Julianna Ervin (D.D.S. ‘19), what began as a part-time job in college became an unexpected ave­nue for supporting future dentists. In dental school, she started working at a golf course in the pro shop to help

“I figured if I’m going to be at a golf course this much,” Ervin said, “I may as well pick up the game.”

While at UMKC, she was grateful to be a scholarship recipient. “It took some stress off during an incredibly

“We can make a difference,” she said. “The urge to take a break from dental school after graduation is understand­able. But the UMKC School of Dentistry is a great school, and with our support, we can help keep it great.” •