Colleen K. Davis, DMD candidate 2018, has received a four-year scholarship from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to attend the ECU School of Dental Medicine.
The National Health Service Corps, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides financial, professional and educational resources to medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health care providers who bring their skills to areas of the United States with limited access to health care.
Davis entered the ECU School of Dental Medicine in August. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in Southern Studies. She completed two years of post-baccalaureate studies at Western Carolina University (WCU). While at WCU, she worked as a Career Graduate Fellow in the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education. She also served as an advanced science and math learning consultant at Southwestern Community College’s Learning Assistance Center.
“I applied to the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program because I was drawn to its mission of enhancing access to care. I believe that all communities need resources to help maintain oral health, and I want to provide those resources directly as a dental professional,” said Davis. “It is an honor to belong to the national network of health care providers who have been assisted by the program, and I consider it a privilege to represent the NHSC at the School of Dental Medicine.”
Davis grew up in Sylva, N.C., in Jackson County about 45 miles west of Asheville. Her father, Dr. Joe Davis, had a distinguished career as a public health dentist. Upon his retirement, he served as a chief dentist at the Jackson County public health clinic until its closing in the 2014. Sylva and many other communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains are considered health professional shortage areas.
“My hope is to complete a DMD at East Carolina and return to the Sylva area as a primary care dentist,” said Davis.
In June 2014, the ECU School of Dental Medicine opened a community service learning center in Sylva, where fourth-year students, post-doctoral residents, and faculty dentists help meet the oral health needs of Jackson and surrounding counties. Davis hopes to begin serving Sylva patients while completing a rotation at the dental center during her fourth-year.
National Health Service Corps scholarships provide tuition, fees, other educational costs and a living stipend, tax-free, for as many as 4 years in exchange for an equal number of years (2-year minimum) service at an approved facility in a high-need underserved area.