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New dentist brims with optimism

Bethesda, Md.—Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry, new to the profession and passionate about service, arrives with “a total optimism” inspired by “involvement in professional organizations since my first year of dental school.” 

Image: Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry launches post-graduate study at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Scholarship winner: Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry launches post-graduate study at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Welcomed in May with D.D.S. and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Michigan and encouraged in July with a $10,000 post-graduate National Dental Association Foundation/Colgate Palmolive Dr. Bessie E. Delany Scholarship, Dr. Lucas-Perry is engaged in a residency program in dental public health at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

“I’m looking at how dental student debt is associated with a student’s intention to work in underserved areas after graduation,” she said. “How do we solve the debt problem to get more interest in serving those communities? I’m putting together my proposal to my program directors and to the research team I work with.”

A recent student representative to ADA’s Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, she arrives with leadership credentials from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, American Dental Education Association, American Student Dental Association and Student National Dental Association.

“Being involved in leadership positions, seeing how representatives to CAPIR worked with the ADA Community Dental Health Coordinator program and how it was implemented and gaining that insider understanding of professional organizations in a leadership capacity helped me understand challenges but also the accomplishments needed to put together an initiative and make it successful,” Dr. Lucas-Perry told the ADA News.

“That has piqued my interest to be involved in professional organizations. You are able to contribute to the profession and grow as a person. Your ideas and perspectives are challenged. As a young person you have this optimistic ideal. With the guidance of mentors working within the system, you look at the reality of things and begin to appreciate the complexity of issues like access to care.

“There are always going to be competing interests on how to address the problem,” she said. “Having an open mind, I know there’s never the perfect solution. My view of organizations like the ADA is that it’s our responsibility to address the issue and recognize that multiple interventions can offer a comprehensive approach.”

As for career steps on young ambition’s ladder, “Presently, I am interested in policy and recommending strategies to improve oral health to vulnerable and underserved populations. Whatever I do in the future, there’s just a desire to improve the lives of people. I’m passionate about it. How can I contribute. How can I improve oral health not just for the underserved population but everyone.”

Your wellspring? “It comes from my family, to being exposed to different circumstances. On a Semester at Sea, I traveled around the world. You see the needs and there’s just a desire to address it, to make it better, a total optimism.”

Welcome to dentistry, Dr. Lucas-Perry. 

Image: Dr. Patricia Lucas, Dr. Victoria Lucas-Perry, Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry and Laval Perry
Dentists three: It was a special moment when my Mom, (from left) Dr. Patricia Lucas, ran across the stage and got to both of us. My sister, Dr. Victoria Lucas-Perry, graduated with me, said Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry. Dad, Laval Perry, an engineer, smiles on his dental family.