The UNC-CH School of Dentistry chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) received the honor of being named Chapter of the Year at the National Dental Association’s (NDA) 46th National Convention in Orlando, Florida. This is the chapter’s second consecutive win and its third win in four years.
“We are honored to represent UNC and bring our school this national recognition,” said Donna Lynn Thomas, president of UNC-CH SNDA and DDS Candidate 2019. “As president of UNC-CH SNDA, I have been fortunate to lead such an amazing organization filled with passionate and devoted members. We continue to be at the forefront of service and diversity thanks to our initiatives including, but not limited to, our CAARE clinic, Impressions Program and Black History Month event.”
Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Equity Initiatives and SNDA faculty advisor, Sylvia Frazier-Bowers, DDS, PhD, said not only do the students truly embody servant leaders, they are bold representatives bringing inclusivity to their school and community.
“The UNC-CH SNDA chapter remains an inspiration to me personally and professionally for their work ethic and leadership in service,” said Frazier-Bowers. “I can only imagine that based on the past trajectory of the chapter, the best is yet to come!”
Chapters considered for the Chapter of the Year awards are evaluated on their leadership and accomplishments with regard to community service, chapter activity, attendance at events and overall member involvement.
Three awards are presented annually at the NDA National Convention, based on three levels of chapter membership: small, up to 20 members; medium, between 21-39 members; and large, more than 40 members. The UNC-CH School of Dentistry’s chapter won the distinction for large SNDA chapters for the second time. In 2015, the UNC SNDA chapter won the same award for the medium chapter category.
“I am incredibly proud of our SNDA chapter for earning this distinction for the third time in four years,” said Dean Scott De Rossi, DMD, MBA. “This repeated honor reflects the impact and excellence of our school’s SNDA chapter, and is an example of why this chapter is one of our school’s star student organizations.”
The UNC-CH SNDA is highly engaged in the local and school community. The chapter hosts the SNDA Impressions Program twice a year, where members reach out to aspiring dental students and introduce students to the UNC-CH School of Dentistry and the oral health profession.
SNDA students lead the dental efforts at a clinic in Durham, North Carolina called SNDA CAAREs, where they provide oral care and education to underserved adults. For their work in the CAARE clinic, the UNC-CH SNDA was awarded the E. Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award in 2017.
The chapter also provides oral health instruction biannually to school-aged children through its “Lessons in a Lunch Box: Health Teeth Essentials and Facts about Snacks” program. In 2017, the group pioneered the school’s first Black History Month event, focusing on minority trailblazers and leaders in dentistry.
“Our cohesiveness has been instrumental in our success this year,” said Thomas. “Although SNDA organizes many community efforts, SNDA to me means family. SNDA provides a support system for its diverse members that allows them to navigate the challenges of dental school. After graduation, I think that is what our members will remember most about SNDA and their dental school experience.”
In addition to receiving the Chapter of the Year award, UNC-CH SNDA member, Beatrice Williams, DDS Candidate 2021, was awarded second place for her research project investigating the physiological and quality of life improvements of HIV patients who visit the dentist. Williams’ research mentor is Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD.
“This was a wonderful analysis of our longitudinal HIV study here at UNC-CH, a HRSA funded Special Project of National Significance (SPNS),” said Webster-Cyriaque. “Beatrice worked collaboratively with our UNC-CH Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) in the determination of oral health care benefits to physical and mental self-perceived health in HIV. We are very proud of Bea and of our SNDA chapter.”
While at the NDA National Convention, Williams was also awarded the Miami-Dade County Dental Society Stipend Award in recognition of her body of work at the UNC-CH School of Dentistry.