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Student Ambassador Program to convene Oct. 21

Dallas—The dental student ambassadors who coordinate initiatives to encourage more underrepresented minorities to seek careers in dentistry are taking their program to the next level.

The ADA Student Ambassador Program will be held here Oct. 21 in conjunction with the American Dental Education Association fall meeting in order to further collaboration with admissions and student affairs officers.

The Student Ambassador Program is a student-driven recruitment process in which students take the lead in organizing and conducting introduction to dentistry programs with an emphasis on recruiting underrepresented students to the profession. College and high school students are invited to discover the art and science of the dental profession and are encouraged to seek a career in dentistry.

"It made perfect sense to try to arrange a program that would allow our ambassador representatives to connect with student affairs deans from dental schools," said Dr. James R. Hupp, a member of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure and chair of CDEL's Career Guidance and Diversity Activities Committee, which coordinates the ambassador program.

Dr. Hupp, who is also the dean of the East Carolina University School of Dentistry, said that bringing student ambassadors together with admissions and student affairs officers from dental schools will advance communication between the two groups; showcase national peer recruitment programs; and lead to a discussion of the challenges related to outreach efforts.

"Together, these two groups can explore ways they can assist each other in the important task of improving the diversity of the dental profession," said Dr. Hupp.

An ambassador award program will also be introduced this year with awards beginning in 2010.

With funding from GlaxoSmithKline, the ADA Student Ambassador Program has met during ADA annual sessions from 2006-08. The program brings together dental students and national organizations like the Student National Dental Association, the Hispanic Student Dental Association, the Society of American Indian Dentists Student Chapter and the American Student Dental Association to initiate and expand student-to-student recruitment activities.

U.S. dental schools sponsored 58 student ambassadors in 2008, which connected the program with health professions advisors at colleges and universities. Representatives of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions served as panelists, shared information on the advising process and ways to promote dentistry.

Collaboration with health professions advisors will continue, said Dr. Hupp.

"College prehealth advisors are a tremendously important group for spreading the word to college students about the advantages of becoming a dentist," said Dr. Hupp. "The advisors can also get the word out to students from historically underrepresented groups about career opportunities in the dental profession.

"I am pleased by the support shown for this program by a sizable majority of my fellow deans and I believe it will continue," he continued. "It shows their commitment to improving the diversity of their student bodies."