Canseco Family Continues Legacy of Student Support
By Catherine Duncan
The Canseco family’s connection to the School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio started with eight siblings from Laredo teaming up with longtime friend and fellow Laredo native Francisco Cigarroa, MD, while he served as UT Health San Antonio president, to create a presidential scholarship specific to students from Texas’ Mid Rio Grande area, which includes their hometown.
In 2008, a generous gift created the Canseco Foundation President’s Endowed Scholarship in Oral Health for students pursuing dental and dental hygiene degrees at UT Health San Antonio. This was a special gift by the Canseco Family Foundation, which had been created in honor of their late father, a physician from Laredo, Texas. At this time, 29 students have received the Canseco endowed scholarship to help them continue their oral health education.
Since that time, sibling Francisco “Quico” Canseco, and his wife, Gloria Canseco, who reside in San Antonio, have maintained a close tie to the School of Dentistry in several ways.
Quico Canseco served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. He is an attorney, businessman and staunch advocate of education. Gloria Canseco serves as chief executive officer for San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, a nonprofit agency providing charitable dental care to low-income and homeless Bexar County adults. The clinic serves as a clinical training site for UT Health dental hygiene and dental students and residents.
Gloria Canseco, having previously worked at UT Health as a director of development for the School of Health Professions, valued the importance of scholarship support for rising health professionals. “Because I worked so closely with many of the faculty, I really got to learn about the many ways our faculty and students can contribute their expertise in our community.”
She left UT Health to go to the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic in 2012. “My work at UT Health truly helped strengthen our clinic’s relationship with the School of Dentistry,” she added. General dentistry residents, fourth-year dental and dental hygiene students care for patients at the clinic while completing their studies.
The clinic, located on the Haven for Hope campus, has become a required clinical rotation for dental students, Gloria Canseco said. “This experience exposes students to the special needs of people dealing with homelessness and extreme poverty. Students learn how to care for patients who may be dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, or trauma. Students learn how to listen to them, adjust for them, and help them feel more at ease.”
Gloria Canseco said after starting at the clinic she contacted Nita Wallace, PhD, who was then-dean of the School of Health Professions [dental hygiene later moved to the Department of Periodontics at the dental school], and asked about having dental hygiene students come to the clinic for clinical rotations.
“Dental hygiene students here get to learn about helping a special population while caring for our patients and cleaning their teeth,” she said. “This is such a great mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved.”
Quico Canseco said he can personally attest to the high-quality care at the dental clinic by School of Dentistry professionals. As the spouse of an employee, he qualifies for dental care there. “The clinic had received new equipment and wanted to try it out on a patient they knew would come back for follow up treatment. I previously had a root canal and had a temporary crown.”
He said a resident began working with him in the morning to create a permanent crown. “She used this machine that took a 3-D image. Then another machine created the tooth out of resin. I came back after lunch, and my tooth was ready. I was really impressed by her ability and knowledge,” Quico Canseco said. The couple started talking to the dental resident and learned they were all from Laredo.
That was when Alma Alexandra Barrera, DDS, Advanced Education in General Dentistry resident, looked again at her patient’s last name. “We figured out Quico and Gloria both know my parents and their siblings from growing up in Laredo. Then it dawned on me they were the same Canseco family who I received the scholarship from during my first year of dental school. My fiancé, Octavio Saldivar, is a first-year dental student who also received the Canseco scholarship.”
Barrera said she is so thankful for the Canseco Foundation and the family members who are all dedicated to supporting students from Laredo. “I really enjoyed spending the day with them and helping Mr. Canseco with his dental care. He was a great second patient for us to try out the new equipment. We are so excited to be able to do same-day crowns.”
Quico Canseco said he too was thrilled to see that one of the Canseco Scholars was not only expertly prepared but was also conscientious about giving the best dental care. “I was really impressed. The crown is just perfect and feels great.”
Gloria Canseco said seeing scholarship recipients excelling at the dental clinic is truly rewarding. “I know she treated Quico with the same level of professionalism and compassion that she treats homeless people who come to the clinic. We saw the values, skills and ability that the School of Dentistry instills on our scholarship recipients,” she said.
“After they graduate, dental hygiene and dental students and residents return to volunteer here. Several have become board members, and we have faculty who regularly volunteer here as well. They see the importance of giving back. The School of Dentistry is as much a part of the clinic family as it is of our own.”