The new dental school in El Paso, Texas, isn't just inspiring dreams and ambitions of future dentists. It's also sparking some excitement and goals for Tanya Sue Maestas, D.D.S.
Dr. Maestas is a 2022 ADA 10 Under 10 Award winner and a new faculty member and adviser at Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She's also the dental director at La Clinica de Familia Inc. in Chaparral, New Mexico, a federally qualified health center serving low-income patients in the surrounding community.
Dr. Maestas values both jobs because they allow her to serve people with unmet needs and to shape other new dentists' interests in public health dentistry. She has been involved at a foundational level in bringing the school to fruition.
"I started around 2019, 2020, with some of the conversations that they were having about the school, starting with some of the curriculum, having conversations even about some of the furniture that they were going to bring into the building," Dr. Maestas said. "So it's kind of fun to see that full circle and now see students in the building."
She started her own dental student career at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston, where she earned her dental degree in 2018 and later an advanced education in general dentistry certificate in 2019.
Dr. Maestas is also currently a student herself, attending A.T. Still University College of Graduate Health Studies, where she is hard at work on her Master of Public Health — Dental Emphasis degree with a dental public health residency certificate.
"That's kind of where I'll be able to blend it all together, public health and teaching, so I can hopefully inspire the next generation to go the public health route," she said, regarding her residency and future master's degree in public health.