Retirement Reception Honors Eight Longtime Faculty

Colleagues and students honored eight retiring faculty members on Aug. 20, with Dean Marsha A. Pyle praising their 202 years of combined full-time service to the School of Dentistry as “excellent teachers, leaders, researchers, supporters and workers.”

“What an amazing commitment these folks have collectively contributed to our successes, our positivity and our growth,” Dean Pyle said at a reception at the Diastole Scholars’ Center. “Each of these wonderful folks spent many years — many of them their careers or most of their careers — supporting the great things we do to meet our mission in teaching, research and service.”
Each retiring professor was acknowledged at the ceremony by a colleague. Here are excerpts from those remarks.

Of Dr. Cindy Amyot, BSDH, MSDH, ESD, EdD, professor and associate dean for Distance Education and Faculty Development, and her 27 years of service, Dean Pyle said: Dr. Amyot has been a pioneer in the promotion of online learning strategies. She is a prolific educational researcher, having 93 peer-reviewed publications to her credit. She shares her knowledge broadly, having served as a mentor to many DH and dental students and to many faculty as they came up through the tenure process, and to clinical faculty in researching clinical/education questions that they have. She has many roles in national leadership in dental education, in particular helping to lead the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation. She is a master teacher and servant leader, serving on important committees of the school, university and profession. Along the way, she has developed and refined her leadership skills as one of the finest leaders I have had the pleasure to work with.

Of Dr. Michael McCunniff, DDS, MS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Public Health and Behavioral Science, and his 28 years of service, Dean Pyle said: He led the department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science while directing the school’s outreach efforts. He has given the program a signature culture of giving back to the community through our dedicated curriculum programming and through his leadership in working in the community promoting oral health through screening and interactions within the city, state and region. Dr. McCunniff has received many teaching and service awards, including the Samuel Rodgers Achievement award from the Missouri Primary Care Association; multiple Teacher of the Year awards; and UMKC Alumnus of the Year. Dr. McCunniff has also taken the lead in our school’s participation in IPE efforts among the health sciences schools. His colleagues said they would their “doughnut connection,” who always knew who had sweets. He always has a story and never met a stranger.
In turn, Dr. McCunniff said of Dr. Bonnie Branson, RDH, PhD, professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science, and her 21 years at UMKC: In 2015 she became the director of External Rotations for the dental students in Missouri and Kansas. The number of patients seen and treated in Community Health Centers has been tremendous thanks to her dedication and hard work.
She has also been active in research, successful grant writing, presenting at multiple national meetings, online teaching, serving as a board member for many organizations and participation on many university committees. Her one weakness: She doesn’t know how to say no! Bonnie has also received multiple awards for her teaching and service, and was instrumental in developing Missouri Preventive Screening Program in 2006. The first year they screened 8,000-plus children and most recently screened more than 90,000 children. A common theme in her colleagues’ comments was her ability to inspire people — along with being a great mentor, friend and role model; soft-spoken and smart; and as strong as nails.

Of Dr. Donna Deines, DDS, MS, associate professor in the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences
and her 40 years of service, Dr. Cynthia Petrie said: Dr. Deines has taught more than 4,000 dental students and holds the record as course director for the most courses — didactic, preclinical and clinical— and most credit hours taught now and possibly in the history of the dental school. Dr. Deines has continuously ensured that the curriculum that is taught is up to date, appropriate and adequate for students to become competent dental practitioners. Dr. Deines has received the Elmer Pierson Outstanding Teaching Award and the David Moore Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Deines has been regarded with respect and acknowledgement for her wealth of dental knowledge, attention to detail and striving for excellence. Students and peers alike know that if something has Dr. Deines’ approval, it is well above the standards of care. Students will sometimes resist Dr. Deines’ encouragement to challenge them to learn the most and perform their best. However, when they are treating a family member or a friend, they want Dr. Deines to supervise their treatment.
Dr. Petrie also paid tribute to Dr. Jack Nelson, DDS, clinical associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, retiring after 7 years of fulltime service: Dr. Nelson has been most effective and greatly appreciated by students and peers. He has received many honors and awards, including fellowship in the American College of Dentists and International College of Dentists, the Rinehart Medallion for Service and the Rinehart Medallion for Philanthropy, the 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award, the 2016 Faculty Award from the American Student Dental Association and the recipient of the 2018 Dr. Hayes Leadership through Service award. He had a private practice in Independence for 30 years, was an active master runner in track and field and road running for many years, served in the Kansas City Police Department, holds a private pilot’s license and was a weeknight net manager for the Military Affiliated Radio System. At the dental school Dr. Nelson gave his whole self to everyone. Dr. Nelson has a remarkable gift of being able to connect with everyone. Dr. Nelson deeply cares for each and every person at UMKC School of Dentistry and everyone with whom he crosses paths. I will greatly miss Dr. Nelson’s positive attitude and optimistic outlook in life.
Of Connie Jamison, RDH, MS, dental hygienist in the Department of Periodontics, and her 20 years of service, Dr. Keerthana Satheesh said: Professor Jamison moved here from Alaska and worked hard to provide care for patients in Oncology Support and Advanced Periodontics. She has a very loyal patient following. She took time to know her patients and treat them with kindness and compassion. After several years of working to provide patient care and complete a master’s degree while working full time, Professor Jamison started to teach in the pre-doctoral clinics. Her passion for dental hygiene and periodontics was apparent in her role as an educator. She enjoyed teaching and connected extremely well with students and patients. She honestly cares that the students understand perio — and she wants them to like it, too. Her students praised Professor Jamison as a top clinical teacher, incredibly thorough and a pleasure to work with, and kind and approachable with a passion for dentistry.

Of Dr. Jerald Katz, DMD, MS, professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, and his 32 years of service, Professor Tamara Hoffman said: I have known you now for the last 11 years. You have known me through the greatest times of my life from attending my wedding to the birth of my kiddos. I have known you through some of what I imagine as the hardest times of your life and yet you approached them with such strength and grace. To this day I do not know your faith, but I have always seen you as the loving and compassionate soul that so many of us admire. For the last couple of years I have called you “Boss” even though you have never made anyone in the department feel beneath you. No matter what concerns at work I had, I always knew I could bring it to you. You have always been open to new ideas and supportive of my goals and for that I thank you. You have given me the freedom and confidence to dream big for our department and strive for efficiency, fluidity and resolution of conflict as it presented. Your colleagues describe you as a great listener, a wonderful boss, approachable, professional and supportive through all our craziness.
Of Dr. Carole McArthur, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, and her 28 years of service, Dr. Mark L. Johnson said: For the past two decades, Dr. McArthur has been at the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS and TB diagnostic system development and evaluation in Cameroon, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she has established treatment clinics that have served millions of people. This past year she was recognized by Otago University as a “Life-Changer,” an award given to alumni that recognizes the sum total of their career achievements; in her case for advancing scientific research and humanitarian aid in the fight against AIDS in Africa. She also has a passion for horses and has bred, trained and entered horses for many years in Dressage, which is an Olympic sport. Carole has competed with her horses at several of the American Royal Horse Shows in the past. Over her career she received more than 70 grants and contracts from federal, state and local agencies as well as international foundations and pharmaceutical companies.
The School of Dentistry is thankful for these outstanding faculty members’ contributions and grateful that some of them will continue to serve the school part time in the future.

Find photos from the reception here.

Armed with Orientation Knowledge, Students Set for Classes to Start

What do 140 smiles look like? If you were at the School of Dentistry on Friday, you could see for yourself.

After three days of orientation, the school’s newest students were able to unwind together at lunch, and then pose for class pictures and enjoy an ice cream social. Several members of the 109-student DDS Class of 2023 and 31-student DH Class of 2021 said all the information conveyed had them feeling much better prepared for classes to start next week.

“The amount of information was almost overwhelming,” said Carlie Slover, a member of the DS Class of 2021. “But all the speakers and staff have been really nice. Everyone Is so helpful and really seems to care about us.”

Her classmate Addison Cornett agreed that the sessions had presented a lot of information to absorb, but that all the support made her feel “It will be OK.”

Sessions on Wednesday and Thursday had already covered many areas, from curriculum and support services to making sure students’ smartphones, laptops and other digital devices were synched up to the school’s systems. Friday sessions added thoughts from Dean Marsha Pyle, DDS, MEd, panel discussions by DH and DDS faculty, and an overview of clinical dentistry by Dr. Brett Ferguson, chair of the Departments of Hospital Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Morgan Engelbrecht from St. James, Missouri, DDS Class of 2023, said, “Dr. Ferguson’s session was a highlight. It was great to hear about what we have to look forward to, and about the specialties in dentistry.”

Classmate Ryan Poertner from Blue Springs, Missouri, also said Dr. Ferguson’s presentation was impressive, along with a faculty panel that “fielded a lot of questions and gave us helpful answers.”

Nate Gamache from Ferguson, Kansas, summed up: “The sessions were well paced, with variety and a lot of useful information.”

Besides conveying three days’ worth of information, orientation also settled some butterflies.

Slover moved from Springfield “because I wanted my B.S. degree, and UMKC has the best dental hygiene program in the region.” Being in a new city, she said, meant orientation’s get-acquainted activities were particularly helpful and welcoming for her. She also has housing close to the school, “and I have a roommate who is in the program, which I wanted.”

“I have a heart for helping people, and as a hygienist I’ll be able to help people smile and have confidence,” Slover said.

Cornett, who is from Kansas City, expressed a similar desire to help others do and be their best.

“I’ve wanted a career in health care my whole life,” she said. “I chose dental hygiene because it’s so important for your health and for being able to achieve what you want. And I chose UMKC because I kept hearing good recommendations for this program. I’m excited for classes to start.”

Orientation photos from Friday’s events.

Class group photos from orientation found here.

Orientation Day 2: A Wealth of Useful Information

The UMKC School of Dentistry packed in a lot of information for its newest students on Thursday, the second of three days of orientation for the Dental Class of 2023 and the Dental Hygiene Class of 2021.

For the 109 DDS students and 31 DH students, the day started with breakfast and a welcoming session with representatives from the Student Programs office, the dental hygiene program and the school’s alumni. After a “getting to know each other” game, two sessions on student success rounded out the morning. The sessions covered everything from building access and safety to class organizations, student opportunities, support services, the curriculum and academic and non-academic policies. After lunch they heard about counseling and health services, libraries and tutoring available to them.

The classes split up for lunch and separate sessions at which DDS students toured the school with mentors and the DH students heard about “Navigating the Dental Hygiene Program.” After lunch, DDS students had a session on handling finances and another on what the Missouri Dental Association has to offer. DH students were able to get the dental instruments they will use throughout the year.

Orientation will wrap up Friday with an overview of the professionals, faculty panel presentations and team building exercises.

Find Thursday’s photos here.

Orientation Underway for New Dental and Dental Hygiene Classes

The School of Dentistry on Wednesday welcomed its newest students, the 109 members of the DDS Class of 2023 and the 31 members of the DH Class of 2021. Wednesday’s activities focused on getting the students – and their laptops, smartphones and other devices – in synch with the school’s computer systems.
Thursday and Friday will be packed with information on curriculum, finances, safety, student groups, libraries, student services and other school policies and resources. And on the personal side, the students will get their scrubs – navy for DDS students and grey for DH students – and enjoy get-to-know-you activities, tours with mentor groups, a pancake breakfast and an ice cream social.
“We survived the first day,” said Ella Algermissen, a DDS student from Albuquerque, New Mexico. “So far, so good.”
After her computer training, Algermissen was chatting with two new classmates, Courtney Wilson from Kansas City and Nikol Flynn from Wichita. They were testing their ID badges for access to the school and, just as importantly, starting the bonding that helps students succeed during their years of intensive learning and training. All three were excited to be at UMKC.
Wilson, who earned her undergraduate degree at nearby William Jewell College, said she was happy to not have to leave her hometown. “The school has a great reputation,” she said. “It’s the dental school of the Midwest!”
Algermissen, who graduated from New Mexico State University, and Flynn, who earned her undergraduate degree at Park University in Parkville, north of Kansas City, said they also were attracted by the school’s reputation, and its tuition exchange program that essentially offers Missouri tuition rates to students from Kansas, New Mexico, Arkansas and Hawaii.
Flynn also was drawn to UMKC because her mother got her nursing degree here, and her brother is a 2011 DDS graduate. “I love Kansas City,” she said, “and I knew UMKC had good programs.”
Wilson is one of 60 students in her class from Missouri, and Flynn is one of 26 Kansans in the class. Algermissen has one other classmate from New Mexico. The rest of the class breaks down with five students each from Hawaii and Arkansas, two each from South Dakota and Kuwait, and one each from Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The class of 58 women and 51 men has an average science GPA of 3.66 and DAT academic average of 20. The age range is 21 to 43.
The new DH class of 30 women and one man has students from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, California and Nebraska. The average science GPA is 3.43 and cumulative GPA is 3.51. The age range is 19 to 25.
Another new student, Jason Lau from Hawaii, said he felt welcome even though he was a long way from home. “The upperclass students from Hawaii have been really helpful,” Lau said. “It’s kind of like having family here.” He also was used to being far from home, having earned his bachelor’s degree at Boston University.
“I’ve been here about a week, so I’m getting settled in,” he said. “Everything has been good so far.”

Photos from Wednesday’s activities.

Award for Young Leaders in Dentistry Goes to Dr. Erin Bumann

In less than two years as an assistant professor at the UMKC School of Dentistry, Dr. Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S., has made a splash. The Kansas City Musculoskeletal Diseases Consortium recently made a nearly $50,000 grant for research Dr. Bumann will work on with a KU School of Medicine researcher. And now Dr. Bumann has been selected for the 2019 Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award from the ADA Foundation.

The Whiston Award, which honors a longtime leader of the American Dental Association and its foundation, was established to provide formal leadership training for promising dentists early in their careers. In making the award, the ADA Foundation said Dr. Bumann stood out among many highly qualified applicants because of her demonstrated leadership skills and her desire to strengthen those skills. The foundation also was impressed by Dr. Bumann’s desire to cultivate innovative approaches to the complexities the dental profession faces, and to improve access to good oral health care for all.

The award provides $5,000 for Dr. Bumann, a pediatric dentist-scientist, to attend any of several leadership training courses offered by the American Management Association or approved by the ADA Foundation.

“The Dr. David Whiston Leadership award will enhance my skills in team leadership, strategic thinking and developing a dynamic voice,” Dr. Bumann said. “I will explore vision and communication skills, as well as learn powerful techniques to effectively lead others to create value for the School of Dentistry and dentistry as a whole. I am honored to have this opportunity from the ADA Foundation to help develop skills that will be critical in my career.”

Dr. Bumann’s innovative research involving avian embryos has focused on cells that influence bone development, in hopes of someday preventing or reducing craniofacial abnormalities in people. She also emphasizes mentoring the undergraduate, graduate and fellowship members of her research team.

“I started in a research lab in my undergraduate training, and it is why I am in the position I am in today,” Dr. Bumann said. “I think it is very important to give back and mentor future generations of scientists and dental professionals.”

School of Dentistry Receives $2 Million Gift To Transform Pre-Clinical Lab

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry will receive $2 million of a $15 million gift to UMKC from the Sunderland Foundation for the renovation of its pre-clinical laboratory.

“We are so grateful for the transformational gift of the Sunderland Foundation, which will help the school achieve our goal of modernizing our pre-clinical lab space,” said Dean Marsha A. Pyle. “The gift will give us the opportunity to offer our students a terrific new learning environment.”

The school’s pre-clinical lab is the vital training area where first- and second-year students spend hundreds of hours. The gift will help finance 110 ergonomically-correct dental simulators, complete with head-and-torso simulated patients, and a much-needed refurbishment of the lab space and its air-handling system.

Updating the space with state-of-the-art equipment will not only help attract students, but will give them a realistic experience from day one. The renovations are scheduled to be complete in early September.

Congratulations to Drs. Sarah Dallas and Erin Bumann, Co-Investigators on Recently Awarded Grants

We are pleased to announce that Drs. Sarah Dallas and Erin Bumann, both members of the School of Dentistry Department of Oral & Craniofacial Sciences, are co-investigators in recently awarded grants for collaborative research projects.
Dr. Dallas (pictured left) will be participating on a $48.8 K grant with Dr. Charlotte Phillips from UM Columbia for the project, “Compromised Mitochondrial Function in the pathogenesis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta”. This research was awarded by the Kansas City Musculoskeletal Diseases Consortium.
Dr. Erin Bumann (pictured right) will work with Dr. Pamela V. Tran from KU School of Medicine on a $48.8 K project titled, “Role of genetic interaction between ciliary paralogs, Thm2 and Thm1, in postnatal skeletogenesis”, also awarded by the KC Musculoskeletal Diseases Consortium.
Congratulations to both researchers!

Goal Met! – Generous Donor Completes Pre-Clinic Funding

Dean Marsha Pyle announced today that the School of Dentistry recently received a generous, transformational gift from the Sunderland Foundation that achieves a fundraising goal for the highly-anticipated Pre-Clinic Laboratory renovation.   Dean Pyle added “Reaching this milestone brings cutting-edge technology to our instructional programs, helps us continue recruiting the best and brightest, and strengthens our patient-centric, comprehensive care program by better simulating the patient experience in a laboratory setting.  We are grateful to all of our donors for their generosity and support and I look forward to showing off our state-of-the-art facility.”

The compelte UMKC announcement is found below.


July 31, 2019

Dear Friends,

As we’re gearing up for the new school year to begin, we have exciting news to share. The Sunderland Foundation has committed $15 million for capital improvements at the University of Missouri-Kansas City that will have far-ranging impacts on Kansas City’s urban-serving research university.

We’re so grateful to the Sunderland Foundation, a supporter and advocate for UMKC for more than three decades. The investment will benefit both Kansas City campuses by improving classrooms, laboratories and spaces for research and student support.

• The Henry W. Bloch School of Management will receive $5 million for renovation and construction of the Bloch Heritage Hall, the original home of the Bloch School. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall has not received an upgrade since 1986. Heritage Hall incorporates the original Tudor-style Shields Mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century, and an addition that was completed in 1986. The renovation and technology update will support advanced teaching methods and anticipated enrollment growth, bringing this essential space in line with UMKC’s commitment to providing students tools for their success.

• Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center will receive $3 million for the renovation of the third floor in preparation for the relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, currently housed in Newcomb Hall. Beyond being a resource for students and faculty, the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center is a recognized community resource for both historical enthusiasts and professional researchers. The university is required by legislative mandate to provide space for the Missouri State Historical Society’s regional office in Kansas City. Moving their offices from former classroom space in Newcomb Hall to Miller Nichols Library will enable scholars and enthusiasts to optimize their research of rare collections on the third floor of the library.

• The School of Law will receive $3 million for renovations to classrooms and student services. The school will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020, and is one of only six law schools to have educated a U.S. president (Harry Truman) and a Supreme Court justice (Charles Whittaker). Its interactive classrooms and student success suite are key components of student-focused education. Renovating 40-year-old classrooms to better accommodate the more interactive experience between professor and students will attract new students and improve current students’ learning.

• The School of Dentistry will receive $2 million for renovations to the pre-clinic laboratory. Comprehensive dental care is shown to improve overall health and decrease risk of complications during dental procedures. The pre-clinic laboratory of the UMKC School of Dentistry has been equipped with outdated equipment. The planned improvements will include state-of-the-art technology that will enable simulation of patient care, proper exam positioning and clinical skills in an authentic learning environment.

• The School of Computing and Engineering will receive $2 million for the renovation of Flarsheim Hall that will reconfigure existing space in conjunction with the completion of the new $20 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, scheduled to be complete in 2020. In 2018, the Sunderland Foundation provided the lead gift on the center, which will be a significant addition the community as well as the university and will include a virtual reality lab a clean room and other state-of-the-art technologies.

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years. His grandson, Kent Sunderland, president of the UMKC Foundation and former vice chairman of Ash Grove Cement, now serves as president of the Sunderland Foundation board of trustees. Since its inception, the Sunderland Foundation has supported construction projects. A huge thank you to the Sunderland Foundation and to Kent for their generosity.

We also want to recognize Jay Wilson, who served as interim president of the UMKC Foundation, for his major role in making this gift possible. The Sunderland Foundation understands that one of the significant components of excellent education is state-of-the-art physical space, technology and equipment that allow our faculty, staff and students to perform at their highest levels. We are grateful and excited to make these buildings reflect the high level of quality of our human capital.


C. Mauli Agrawal
UMKC Chancellor

Lisa B. Baronio
UMKC Foundation President and Chief Advancement Officer

Program Helps Students with their Dental School Applications

Getting accepted into dental school is no small feat, so Jay Trivedi and Alameen Nuru are working extra hard this summer — and getting extra help — to make sure their applications and scores on the DAT, the Dental Admissions Test, are the best they can be.

They both will be seniors this fall at UMKC and are among 10 college undergraduates and recent graduates in the STAHR Scholars Dentistry program. The 10-week summer program, which wrapped up last week, is a key part of the School of Dentistry’s efforts to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds.

“This is such a great opportunity to prepare for the DAT,” said Trivedi, whose family moved to the United States from India a decade ago. “I’m majoring in chemistry and biology, and the program is helping me review and refresh what I know, and learn even more.”

Nuru, whose parents came to America to escape civil war in Ethiopia, shares Trivedi’s enthusiasm for the summer program. He said it provided regular online test preparation sessions for the parts of the DAT on chemistry, biology and quantitative reasoning – “and I’m studying several more hours every week on my own.”

The School of Dentistry program, formerly known as the Admissions Enhancement Program, or AEP, also gave the students advice on the personal essay that will accompany their application, and help with interview techniques and practice interviews.

Along with its name change, the program got a boost from a $3.2 million STAHR Partnership grant to help UMKC’s Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Pharmacy expand their minority recruitment programs. (STAHR stands for Students in Training, in Academia, in Health and Research.)

The program this summer started with two weeks of preparation work online, followed by a week on campus, then six more weeks of online work and, finally, a second week on campus that included a “graduation” ceremony July 25. Trivedi, whose family lives on the Kansas side of the Kansas City area, and Nuru, from the Missouri side, were joined by other students from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and North Carolina.

“It has been great to meet the others and to get to know them,” Trivedi said. “Having exposure to other pre-dental students has been so valuable, to know there are others like me and to hear how they fell in love with dentistry, too.”
Trivedi and Nuru already knew something about the UMKC School of Dentistry because each has had an older sibling in the school. Trivedi’s sister, Vaidehi, is in the DDS Class of 2020, and Nuru’s brother, Mohammed, graduated with the DDS Class of 2019. And both were eager to learn more this summer.
“It was really valuable to meet faculty members and admissions staff and current dental students, and to get to shadow them and see what we would be learning,” Trivedi said. “My sister did AEP, so I knew this would be an amazing program.”
Trivedi, Nuru and their colleagues, just to get into the STAHRS program, had already distinguished themselves in academics and leadership.
After his senior year in high school, Trivedi was involved with KMOM and MOMOM, outstate Mission of Mercy projects run by the Kansas and Missouri Dental Associations. “I got to assist dentists, and most of them graduated from UMKC. I also learned that there are many areas in the United States, especially rural areas, that need more access to dental care.”
At UMKC, Trivedi continued to serve by joining the board of the Pre-Dental Society. As its vice president, has lined up speakers and helped organize educational events.
Nuru said when he was in high school he joined HOSA — Future Health Professionals, an organization that teaches about health careers. He helped organize group events, including a 5K run-walk to support a teacher who had leukemia. “Then at community college, before I transferred to UMKC, I was in the Allied Health Club and organized events including a bone marrow donor drive,” Nuru said.
“I knew I wanted to be in health care, to help others, but I wasn’t sure about dentistry until my brother did an externship to Joplin, Missouri. It was a great experience for him; it really had an effect. Knowing from him that there are underserved areas in the United States that really need dental care helped me decide on dentistry.”
At their graduation ceremony, Melanie Simmer-Beck, RDH, PhD, professor and director of the School of Dentistry STAHR Scholars Dentistry program, said, “It was inspiring to work with such a talented and committed group of students. Our faculty volunteers, staff and students put in many hours to make this a success.”
In August, Trivedi, Nuru and their colleagues will be taking the DAT — and filling out their applications for dental schools. There’s no telling where they will be accepted and enroll, but they agreed on a couple of things:
“It would be awesome to come to the dental school at UMKC,” Trivedi said. “The fulltime faculty I have met are so committed and really want to help students and the community.”
And, Nuru said, “The summer program has been great. From the DAT preparation to shadowing current students and getting to know the other pre-dental students like me, this program has really helped me.”

Photos from the event.