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Howard dental students rally around class president after theft

April 29, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

Breanna Benbow
Ms. Benbow
Washington – Howard University dental student Breanna Benbow was busy studying at the library when the unthinkable happened: Someone broke into her car parked across the street and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of dental instruments.

 “I was petrified, I was terrified, and I honestly didn’t really know what to do,” said Ms. Benbow, 29, who is originally from Baltimore.

Ms. Benbow had been studying at the Washington D.C. university’s Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library for about seven hours when she left at 9 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2018. When she got to her car, she saw the rear passenger side window was broken and her dental instrument case was missing.

Among the stolen items were hand pieces, a curing light and a restorative cassette with associated instruments. Ms. Benbow’s losses exceeded a whopping $8,900, leaving her with one big question on her mind.

“Where is this money going to come from?” she said.

But Ms. Benbow was not left to figure out her next steps on her own.

As the president of the college of dentistry’s Class of 2021, she was used to helping her classmates, and now her peers wanted to return the favor.

Students Yemisi Thomas and Tara Fatmi created a GoFundMe page the day after the theft, and soon, their efforts spread to the rest of their classmates and beyond.

The page ultimately raised $3,615 for Ms. Benbow. She also received support in other ways, from dental professionals purchasing specific instruments for her to upperclassmen donating materials they would no longer need.

Ms. Benbow said the outpouring of love and support she received still “blows her mind.”

“Just to know that there are people who believe in you and who really want to see you do well, it honestly was overwhelming but in a great way,” she said. “It just really gave me this sense of confidence and just this sense of pride in the profession that I had chosen.”

Ms. Thomas, who serves as vice president of the class, said she was surprised by the amount of money raised and the reach the fundraiser achieved, but when it comes to the Class of 2021, its members look out for each other.

“Everybody knows what she’s done for the class and how she goes above and beyond making sure that everything is always set right and nobody’s left behind and that we’re all moving forward together,” she said. “It was, without a doubt, just one of those things where she takes care of us, we definitely have to take care of her.”