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Devon Harris, fourth-year dental student, and Hevony Rodriguez, third-year dental student

Devon Harris, fourth-year dental student, and Hevony Rodriguez, third-year dental student, are among the initial recipients of Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, which is funded through a four-year, $2.4 million federal grant.

The School of Dentistry has received a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant will provide $600,000 annually for four years for the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program.

The program aims to increase the number of graduates practicing in primary care, enrollment and retention of full-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the number of graduates working in medically underserved communities.

To be eligible for the award, schools must have at least 20 percent of full-time students and graduates from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We are glad to see that some of our students will benefit from this award, and graduate with less student debt,” said Juanita Lozano-Pineda, D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry and director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence. The center’s outreach and retention programs have greatly increased enrollment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including underrepresented minorities, she added.

“Our hope is that this will facilitate their being able to return and practice in an underserved community that will gain access to much-needed dental services and improved oral health,” she said.

Another project, Predoctoral Pediatric Training in General Dentistry, also received two grants totaling more than $2.8 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The project aims to train general dentistry students in the clinical care of patients less than 5 years old, including vulnerable and underserved populations.

Student clinical experiences will include training in a Federally Qualified Health Care Center and working in interprofessional groups to improve patient care outcomes. Students also will be provided training in counseling to address childhood obesity.

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