Nikki Tucker, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, has been selected to receive a 2018 American Dental Education Association/Academy of Academic Leadership (ADEA/AAL) Faculty of Color Tuition Scholarship for Professional Development through the Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL).
The scholarship supports professional development activities for faculty of color in dental and allied dental education who are in the early stages of their careers. The ADEA/AAL ITL provides six days of intensive onsite learning, discussions and networking with faculty from the United States, Canada and abroad.
Dr. Tucker will be recognized for the scholarship at the 2018 American Dental Education Association Annual Session & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, on March 19, 2018. She will attend the ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching and Learning in 2018.
“I am very honored to receive the scholarship and look forward to attending the Institute. I look forward to gaining new information to enhance my skills as an educator at ECU School of Dental Medicine,” said Dr. Tucker.
Dr. Tucker joined the ECU School of Dental Medicine in June of 2017. Prior to ECU, she served as an associate at private dental practices in High Point, Burlington, and Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C. She earned a DDS from Howard University College of Dentistry.
The ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching and Learning curriculum offers these topics:
Shaping a teaching philosophy
Instructional course design
Effective clinical teaching strategies
Working effectively with students facing challenges
Motivational interviews in the clinic/community
Case-based learning and problem-based learning
Enhancing learning environments to maximize student motivation
Being a police officer and a dentist are more similar than one might think. That’s what former Sgt. Rudy Oxendine is realizing as a first-year dental student.
“It’s all about perspective,” said Dr. Todd Watkins, assistant dean for dental education and informatics at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine. “He already has the background in service and as a result, dental service is just a different type of service than what than what he’s already been accustomed to. So I just see it as an extension of his regular personality.”
Dr. Linc Conn (right) inspects the work of first-year dental student Rudy Oxendine. Oxendine is a former Greenville police officer. (Photo by Rhett Butler)
Last summer, Oxendine was the sergeant of the center city unit of the Greenville Police Department. Today he is a first-year dental student.
“I made the decision (dental school) because, do you want to live your whole life wondering, ‘What if?’ I didn’t want to wonder,” Oxendine said.
Oxendine joined GPD in 2003. He earned the rank of sergeant, served on the SWAT Team for 11 years and continues to work as a reserve officer. He had the chance to climb the police department ladder after successfully completing a promotional process that could have potentially led him to the rank of lieutenant. But instead, he removed himself from the eligibility list to remain on the center city unit where he felt he was making a difference.
“I really, really enjoyed my position. I liked what I was doing. I loved who I worked with. I enjoy this entire area (downtown Greenville) and seeing it progress,” Oxendine said.
While many people wouldn’t pass up an opportunity for promotion, those who know Oxendine understand it – especially the officers who were under his command.
Oxendine was with the Greenville Police Department for 13 years before going to dental school. (Photo by Jay Clark)
Oxendine was with the Greenville Police Department for 13 years before going to dental school. (Photo by Jay Clark)
“He helped me become a better police officer,” said GPD officer Sam Paldino. “He would just go out of his way. It didn’t matter if it was his day off or if he had other things to do, he would always go above and beyond. He really wanted to help people build their career. He would always challenge me. He would ask me, ‘What do you want to do in the future and how are you going to do that? I want to help you get there.’”
And it wasn’t just Oxendine’s fellow officers that he served. Those living and working in the center city district had easy access.
“He’s been wonderful. You go out there and call any time of the night – call his phone and he’s right there to help you,” said Shawn Grazier, manager of Crave Restaurant. “There are huge shoes to fill. Rudy’s built up the reputation and the relationships with everybody downtown.”
Why a dentist?
Oxendine said the seed to become a dentist was planted years ago. He grew up in a poor area of Robeson County. He said he needed a lot of dental attention but he wasn’t able to access care for much of his childhood.
“The need exists there just like it exists all over eastern North Carolina,” Oxendine said. “It’s just something that I knew I wanted to do because it’s a great way to help and it’s a great opportunity for me to give back. I’m hoping that if I can continue on my current pace I’ll have that opportunity someday.”
Oxendine, 39, is married and a father of a 6-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. He said back when he was the typical college age, he wasn’t mature enough nor did he have the discipline to do what was needed to become a dentist. But then he went through basic law enforcement training.
“You’re going to learn discipline or you’re going to fail out. If you have the mindset that you’re not going to fail, you will become more disciplined,” Oxendine said. “I think that’s what the police department did for me.”
While an officer, Oxendine went to ECU and got a degree in chemistry in 2009. He then took some prerequisites so he could eventually apply to the School of Dental Medicine. He started his new journey in August.
“You walk in here knowing that it is going to be difficult and you don’t know what to expect,” Oxendine said. “I had a good semester; I’m pleased with my performance. I have a lot to learn.”
Oxendine works in the simulation lab on the mannequin he has named Santiago. (Photo by Rhett Butler)
These days, instead of walking the beat downtown, you’ll see Oxendine walking from the lecture hall to the simulation lab in Ross Hall on ECU’s Health Sciences campus. Instead of Oxendine working with the latest law enforcement equipment at the range, he’s working with his restorative kit, fixing cavities and other defects in the mouth of a mannequin he’s affectionately named Santiago.
“Each week you’re learning something new – you’re having to apply it – and no matter how good you were the previous week, you’re going to have a new thing to learn, a new hardship that you’re going to have to overcome,” Oxendine said.
Watkins said Oxendine’s current dental education is essentially like he’s on training wheels, but not for long. “Next, we will take the training wheels off and he will have to work in our clinics while we watch him. And then he’s going to be doing real live patient care in our service learning centers.”
Oxendine’s transition from officer to future dentist has him working closely with a new set of peers, which seems to be extending his family.
“All of my closest friends were obviously related to (GPD). You miss the people – they’re your friends, they’re your family, you’ve gone through a lot of traumatic things together which creates a bond. That’s probably the most difficult part – not seeing your friends every day,” Oxendine said. “However, I’m growing close to a lot of people at the dental school. So I’m really pleased that I found some great friends over here.”
His former colleagues say ECU is gaining a student who leads by example.
“As for GPD, I don’t think they’re going to be able to replace him, he’s just one of a kind. He was a great supervisor, he’s a great leader. People just love being around him, people love working with him,” Paldino said. “As for ECU, I think they’re definitely in for a treat. He’s just extremely motivated and he’s going to really have an impact over there.
Loren Alves, DMD, DABPD, FAAPD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, has been selected to participate in ECU’s BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program for spring 2018.
The program provides incentive grants of $1,000 for faculty from ECU colleges and schools to study the relationship between active learning and the development of leadership capacity abilities. The program is based on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s book Leadership Reconsidered: Engaging Higher Education in Social Change, which examines the role of higher education in creating leaders for a diverse and democratic society.
The purpose of the grant program is to explore the relationship between active learning and the development of leadership abilities as described in Leadership Reconsidered through one or more of the abilities of transformative leadership: collaboration, shared purpose, disagreement with respect, division of labor, learning environment, self-knowledge, authenticity/integrity, commitment, empathy/understanding, and competency.
Dr. Alves is currently teaching “Local Anesthesia for the Pediatric Dental Patient,” a required didactic and hands-on simulation based course designed for second year dental students. Within the course, students practice interactive anesthetic techniques to achieve competence of these skills in treating pediatric patients.
Dr. Loren Alves, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry, has been selected to participate in the university’s BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program.
Dr. Alves has redesigned the course to introduce the use of a dental typodont (simulated plastic upper and lower dental arch) containing electronic sensors and alarms that simulate locations of anatomic nerve injection sites. An acoustic signal indicates the successful position for achieving the desired anesthetic region when the syringe needle contacts the sensor.
“Changing the course design to incorporate this new active simulation will further students’ understanding of the techniques of pediatric anesthesia administration and will be a valuable tool in helping them make connections between the classroom and clinical instruction,” said Dr. Alves.
The course will consist of three main active learning components: 1) simulation of local anesthesia administration to pediatric dental patients using an anatomically correct pediatric dental model (typodont); 2) self-assessment with feedback and discussion; and 3) reflection with development of a plan for improvement.
Dr. Alves and other grantees are asked to keep a detailed journal on the students’ growth in learning and leadership capabilities, videotape a class meeting to review for leadership abilities developed and future opportunities, and write a final reflection on project’s learning opportunities for the students and faculty member. Students will complete surveys at the beginning and end of the course.
“The active learning exercise using the dental typodont will set up an environment for transformative leadership as discussed in Leadership Reconsidered,” said Dr. Alves. “The students’ self-assessments and my observations will give us a good idea about the extent of learning and leadership development taking place and about potential opportunities.”
The BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Incentive Grant Program is managed by the ECU Office for Faculty Excellence for the BB&T Center for Leadership Development. The program provides up to 15 grants for ECU faculty each year.
While preparing for her own future, second-year dental student Brianna Chavis-Locklear is also interested in the future of the children at Prospect Elementary School in rural Robeson County, North Carolina. Brianna is an alumna of the school, which serves nearly 1,000 children from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade and is the heart and soul of the community. Ninety-six percent of the children at Prospect are of Lumbee Indian descent.
Brianna, also a member of the Lumbee Tribe and a student member of the Society of American Indian Dentists, took the lead in organizing a presentation called Lessons in a Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials & Facts About Snacks on January 10 for 220 second and third graders, teachers, and staff at the school located in Maxton, N.C.
Second-year dental student Brianna Chavis-Locklear (at left) organized Lessons in a Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials & Facts About Snacks at Prospect Elementary School in rural Robeson County. Her efforts were supported by Prospect Principal Jonathan Blue; Dr. Winifred J. Booker of The Children’s Oral Health Institute; and Dr. Loren Alves, a member of the ECU pediatric dentistry faculty.
Ten of Brianna’s classmates joined her in the presentation as did Dr. Loren Alves, a member of the ECU pediatric dentistry faculty, Dr. Winifred J. Booker and Chiquita Veney of The Children’s Oral Health Institute in Maryland, and students from Fayetteville Technical Community College and UNC-Pembroke.
Lessons in a Lunch Box was developed by Winifred Booker, DDS, to give dental students across the country a formalized program for delivering oral hygiene instruction to children. Children leave the presentation with their own tools for fighting cavities and for teaching their friends and families about oral health and nutrition.
The dental students demonstrated proper flossing and brushing techniques using puppets and oversized dentures. They also showed videos on flossing and brushing that featured the Charlie Brown gang and were commissioned by the American Dental Association.
The students said that dentists want children to take good care of their teeth so they can “learn and study and sing without pain and suffering from a toothache.”
The children were asked to raise their hand if they had ever had a “sick” tooth. A majority of the children raised a hand.
At the end of the presentation, each child was given a bright orange lunch box containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mirror inside a clever orange carrot case. The lunch box also includes instructions in English and Spanish on flossing and brushing and gives the website for the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov nutrition guidelines.
Brianna had more than one objective in organizing the presentation. First and foremost, she wanted to give back to the school and community that gave her so much in her formative years.
“Also,” she said, “the school is predominantly made up of Lumbee Indian children, which is an underserved population in North Carolina. So, a need for a program like Lessons in a Lunch Box is evident in the area. I also wanted to create a dental related volunteer opportunity for students at UNC-Pembroke and Fayetteville Technical Community College.”
Prospect Elementary School Principal Jonathan Blue is also of Lumbee descent and a lifelong resident of Robeson County. He knows the families in his school district very well, and Brianna and her family are not exceptions. “I’m very proud of Brianna for what she is achieving and for giving back to our community.” he said.
When introducing the presenters, Mr. Blue gestured toward the dental students and told the children that they could be the ones dressed in doctor coats someday.
“I like the motto, ‘You can get anywhere from here,’” he said, “and I say it to our kids all the time. I want them to know they can be dentists or whatever they want to be.”
Students from the ECU School of Dental Medicine, UNC-Pembroke, and Fayetteville Technical Community College presented Lessons in a Lunch Box for 220 Prospect Elementary School students, teachers, and staff.
Dr. Booker, who is the CEO of The Children’s Oral Health Institute and president of the Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID), traveled from Maryland to play an active role in the presentation along with the Institute’s program director, Chiquita Veney.
Dr. Booker said, “We are so pleased that a student dentist like Brianna would have the commitment to community to introduce Lessons in a Lunch Box at the elementary school she attended as a child. This is truly a daughter coming home. The members of her class are also to be commended for their willingness to support oral health education for elementary school students.”
Dr. Loren Alves said, “The ECU School of Dental Medicine realizes that Robeson County is in serious need of dentists. That’s why the school established a community service learning center in Lumberton and why programs like Lessons in a Lunch Box are so important to allow these elementary students to also see what they can be someday.”
A January press release from The Children’s Oral Health Institute stated that 35 dental schools across the United States have registered to present Lessons in a Lunch Box in 2018 as part of their outreach programs and that over 55,000 lunchboxes will be placed in the hands of school children and their classrooms and ultimately into their homes and communities.
Lessons in a Lunch Box has an impressive list of corporate sponsors including the American Dental Association, Colgate, Crest, and Henry Schein to name a few. The Society of American Indian Dentists sponsored the shipment of lunch boxes to Prospect Elementary School. More information on The Children’s Oral Health Institute is available at www.mycohi.org.
As fourth-year dental students, Brianna and her classmates will gain hands-on clinical experience treating patients at ECU School of Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Centers in eight rural communities across North Carolina, including the center at 600 Country Club Road in Lumberton, N.C.
Mark Moss, DDS, PhD, has authored “Integrating Oral Health Care Services Within Medicare” in the North Carolina Medical Journal (NCMJ), November/December 2017.
The article’s abstract is as follows: The idea of a Medicare oral health benefit is attracting attention. Models for care that focus on screening, prevention, and early intervention have been developed. East Carolina University’s Community Service Learning Centers are well-positioned to work with community partners to extend care to older adults in rural areas.
About Dr. Moss
Mark Moss brings a rich mix of experience to his role on the foundational sciences faculty at ECU School of Dental Medicine. He has served as the State Dental Director in the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. Prior to that position, he worked for twelve years in a rural community clinic in upstate New York and was a faculty member in the New York Dental Public Health Residency Program and at the University of Rochester and Eastman Dental Center. Dr. Moss has also held adjunct faculty appointments at New York University College of Dentistry and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Moss’ career path aligns well with the School of Dental Medicine’s vision of improving the health and quality of life of all North Carolinians by creating leaders with a passion to care for the underserved and by leading the nation in community-based, service learning oral health education. For more information about Dr. Moss, visit https://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/dental/employee.cfm?id=2169.
Many children spend their time with video games and movies rather than a baseball or a jump rope, but maybe it’s possible to give children the health benefits of exercise before they are born.
Dr. Linda May has plans to show that if mothers commit to exercising during their pregnancies, there can be long term health benefits for their children.
Dr. May is an assistant professor of anatomy and physiology at the ECU School of Dental Medicine and an adjunct professor with the ECU College of Health and Human Performance and with the Obstetrics/Gynecology program at the ECU Brody School of Medicine. Her interest in heart health and exercise began at an early age. Her master’s work at the University of Florida was in exercise physiology.
During her master’s program, May learned that Dr. James Clapp, a well respected obstetrician at Case Western Reserve University, was studying the effects of exercise during pregnancy on maternal health. She contacted him with the idea of studying the influence of maternal exercise in pregnancy on child development before and after birth. He helped her get started.
“I jumped at the chance to have Dr. Clapp as a mentor and research partner,” said May, who completed her PhD in physiology at Kent State University.
Working with grant funds from the American Heart Association, May recruits expectant mothers for her research and provides each of them with an exercise plan to follow using facilities on ECU’s campus. Her team works with the mothers three times a week and records their heart measurements during and after their workouts.
Her collaborators in obstetrics and gynecology as well as pediatric cardiology help to record the babies’ heart and body measurements before and after birth.
“We are learning that, yes, generally the babies have improved heart measures, decreased heart rate, and increased variability, which is what most people achieve with a sustained exercise program. I was super excited to discover this when we first started,” said May, who is now in the fourth year of her study at ECU.
The mothers are welcomed back to May’s study after delivering their babies so she and her team can monitor what happens when babies are no longer exposed to mom’s exercise habits.
May and her team of exercise physiology students and interdisciplinary faculty repeat the measurement when the babies are one month, six months, and 12 months of age. The team is finding that in general the babies reflect the positive effects of their mother’s exercise regimen during pregnancy.
Dr. Linda May (at right) guides exercise classes for expectant mothers through the Enhanced Neonatal Health and Neonatal Cardiac Effect Developmentally (ENHANCED) program she heads at ECU.
“This summer, our team tested two- and three-year-olds whose moms had been in our exercise program. We found that the toddlers had maintained the benefits of their mothers’ exercise. They also had below average body fat and above average motor skills, which is very intriguing,” she said.
Winterville, N.C., resident Amanda Dobbs is the mother of two boys, ages three and one. She joined May’s study soon after learning that she was pregnant with the second boy.
“I was quite overweight and inactive during my first pregnancy, and I had a very difficult delivery and a long recuperation,” Dobb’s said, “I knew I had to do things differently during my second pregnancy.”
As a participant in May’s study, Dobbs exercised three times a week beginning in her first trimester until just before her delivery. “The experience with my second son was completely different than with my first baby,” she said. “My labor, delivery, and recuperation were much shorter and easier. In fact, I walked my older son to the park the day after delivering our younger son.”
Dobbs credits the sustained exercise with the easier delivery and recovery. Her second baby remains in May’s study, and the effects of Amanda’s prenatal exercise on his health are still being assessed. Dobbs continues to be very health conscious—both for herself and for her family.
May’s study will follow children as they grow to 13 years of age. Measurements include heart health, fat development, cognitive health, and neuromotor health. She wants to see if the children will continue to be healthier regardless of their interests and level of activity.
May’s goals do not include creating a group of “super babies.” Her main concern is prevention and protection from future disease. As the mother of two boys herself, she was very active during her pregnancies in hopes of protecting her children from the heart disease that afflicts her husband’s side of the family.
“Kids can’t pick their parents, and they can’t pick their genes,” said May, “but we can give them the best start possible and point them in the direction of health. So far, our study seems to
indicate that regular exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for mom and baby and may possibly have long term effects.”
Exercise science students Kristen Harrison and Alex Babineau promoted the ENHANCED program at Latinofest in Greenville this fall.
May wants her study to include pregnant moms of all possible ethnicities. She and her students recently attended Greenville’s Latino Festival and spread the news about the exercise program. “There are so many women out there who would benefit from the program, and it’s all free,” she said. “But we are in need of volunteer interpreters and those who can provide the moms with transportation to ECU.”
It is never too late to start a healthy lifestyle, and Dr. May is always looking for new mothers to join in her study, regardless of their exercise history. “I think every child should have the best chance possible, even before they are born,” she said.
Akeadra Elantra Bell, second-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has been selected to receive scholarships from two national organizations to help cover her educational needs.
The Scholarship Committee of the National Dental Association Foundation selected Miss Bell to receive a $1,000 Predoctoral Dental Colgate-Palmolive Scholarship.
She has also been selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Akeadra Bell, Class of 2020
Miss Bell, who is originally from Elizabeth City, N.C., is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University, where she majored in chemistry.
She serves as vice president of the ECU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and as corporate roundtable representative for the SNDA at the national level. She is treasurer of the Student Pediatric Dentistry Club, and she was recently elected pre-dental committee chair of the American Student Dental Association. She also serves as an academic tutor for other dental students.
The lack of dentists in Elizabeth City in the northeastern corner of the state impacted Miss Bell and her family during her formative years. The family experienced long car rides to either Greenville, N.C., or Chesapeake, VA, for dental appointments. But it was the long transformative experience of wearing braces that sparked her interest in the profession.
“It’s hard to describe my feeling when the braces came off and I saw my smile. At that moment, all those years of being a brace-face, wearing a retainer with a fake tooth on it, and all that travel was worth it,” she said. “My bright new smile, my relationship with my orthodontist, and being able to observe the art of dentistry sold me on becoming a dentist.”
Miss Bell’s long-term goal is to return to Elizabeth City and establish her own general dentistry practice. In the shorter term, however, she is working to complete a doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree in 2020. “After dental school, I would like to complete a one-year residency program to gain further experience,” she said.
“Akeadra has brought her own unique dynamic combination of academic talent, leadership ability and passion for caring for the underserved to the ECU SoDM community. We look forward to her continued contributions as a student, a future alumna, and a member of the dental profession,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, vice dean of the dental school.
As a second-year dental student, Miss Bell will soon begin treating patients under the supervision of dental faculty in Ledyard E. Ross Hall, the school’s teaching and clinical facility at ECU. During her fourth year, she and her classmates will complete rotations at the school’s community service learning centers in eight rural and underserved communities across North Carolina.
The ECU School of Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Center-Elizabeth City was opened in 2013. Miss Bell will have the opportunity to serve patients in her home community at that location during her final year of dental school.
Dr. Gregory Chadwick, dean of East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine, was awarded the 2017 Gov. James E. Holshouser Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service on Friday, Nov. 3.
The UNC Board of Governors bestows the honor each year on one faculty member from the University of North Carolina system who exemplifies public service toward improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians.
Leslie Pence, third-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has been selected as a 2017 Dental Trade Alliance Foundation scholarship winner.
The Dental Trade Alliance Foundation is awarding $5,000 scholarships this year to rising third and fourth-year dental students who have demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry and have an established commitment to community service.
Leslie, who is originally from Cleveland, N.C., in Rowan County, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a major in environmental studies with a concentration in health and the environment and a minor in Spanish for medical professions.
Third-year student Leslie Pence has received a 2017 Dental Trade Alliance Foundation scholarship. She is pictured with Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Margaret Wilson, vice dean and associate dean for Student Affairs.
As an officer of the ECU Student Chapter of the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Leslie has assisted in coordinating several community service projects for children, including oral health screenings, oral hygiene instruction, and academic mentoring programs.
She and fellow dental students also travel distances to provide instruction in oral hygiene and nutrition for elementary school children in Green County, N.C.
“My passion for working with children is what drives my desire to pursue pediatric dentistry after graduation,” said Leslie. “I believe community service is an integral part of dentistry because it allows dentists to build relationships within their communities and better understand the specific needs of those they serve.”
Leslie’s goal is to become a pediatric dentist and mentor, advocate, and role model for children in an underserved area of North Carolina.
“We congratulate Leslie on receiving this award. Her selection recognizes her commitment to caring for underserved children and further promotes the mission of the ECU School of Dental Medicine,”said Dr. Margaret Wilson, vice dean of the dental school.
As a third-year dental student, Leslie serves dental patients under the supervision of dental faculty in Ledyard E. Ross Hall, the school’s teaching and clinical facility at ECU. During her fourth year, she and her classmates will complete rotations at the school’s community service learning centers in eight rural and underserved communities across North Carolina, a unique opportunity among dental schools.
According to its website, the Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) is an association of companies that provide dental equipment, supplies, materials and services to dentists and other oral care professionals. The purpose of the DTA Foundation is to broaden awareness of oral health’s impact on overall health and increase access to oral health care.
The ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Dental Student Government (DSG) officers have been selected for 2017-2018. The officers include Maria Isabel “Bel” Rego, president; Kiersten Bethea, vice president; Taylor Windley, secretary; Alexis Webb, treasurer; and Briana Hudson, community service chair.
The DSG represents the dental student body and acts as a guide in all academic and social matters. The role of the officers is to develop and implement projects that advance the School of Dental Medicine and the dental profession overall.
When asked what the DSG hopes to accomplish this year, President Bel Rego said, “We want to promote leadership, unity, and integrity while fostering an inclusive environment that values our students’ perspectives, stands by the well-being of all students, and provides an opportunity for all.”
ECU School of Dental Medicine Dental Student Government (DSG) officers for 2017-2018 are (seated left to right) Bel Rego, president; Kiersten Bethea, vice president; (standing left to right) Alexis Webb, treasurer; Taylor Windley, secretary; and Briana Hudson, community service chair.
Maria Isabel “Bel” Rego, president, is a third-year student from Winston Salem, N.C. She became DSG president after a successful year as DSG treasurer in 2016-2017. She is a graduate of Salem College and has worked with health equity and minority research for several years at Wake Forest University School of Medicine’s Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity. She earned a master’s degree in health education and promotion from ECU in 2014 and is a certified health education specialist (CHES) and a member of the North Carolina Society of Public Health Education.
Kiersten Bethea, vice president, is a third-year student from Greensboro, N.C. She graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 2014 with a major in biology. Prior to dental school, she worked as a dental assistant in an oral surgery practice. In 2016-2017, she served as community service chair for both the DSG and the Student National Dental Association, and she has served on several committees at the dental school. As a North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellow, Kiersten is collaborating with an ECU Brody School of Medicine student in working with community providers to offer oral health care to the homeless.
Taylor Windley, secretary, is a second-year student from Zebulon, N.C. As secretary, she serves as the communication link between the DSG and the student body. She graduated with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and archaeology. She is chair of philanthropy for the school’s DMD student organization. She is especially interested in research in the area of pregnancy and infants; she is a member of the school’s Research Scholarship Committee. Upon graduation from dental school, Taylor hopes to become the third generation of dentists in her family to practice in North Carolina.
Alexis Webb, treasurer, is a second-year student from Durham, N.C. She is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, where she earned a chemistry degree and was a leader on and off the volleyball court and softball field, participarting in community service and mentoring programs. She earned a master’s in medical sciences from Hampton University. As DSG treasurer, Alexis guides student organizations in the appropriate handling and use of funds. Following graduation, she hopes to practice dentistry and engage in community outreach in an underserved area of North Carolina.
Briana Hudson, community service chair, is a second-year student from Greenville, N.C. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where she majored in exercise and sports science. She completed a post-baccalaureate degree in pre-health at UNC-Greensboro. She has held several leadership positions at the dental school, including community service chair for the Class of 2020 and for the American Dental Student Association. She has also served as event and networking coordinator for the Student National Dental Association. As DSG community service chair, she helps coordinate the school’s student outreach projects. Upon graduation from dental school, Briana hope to practice dentistry in a rural area of the state.
“We are delighted to have such an excellent group of Dental Student Government leaders as our officers this year. I know they will carry on the tradition of outstanding DSG leadership and build upon the achievements of their predecessors. At the School of Dental Medicine, we are educating dentists AND leaders,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, the school’s vice dean and associate dean for student affairs.