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School of Dentistry students Jade Kim (D2) and Suyeon Kim (D2) were among 21 fellows who presented their projects and became Fellows for Life during the Alabama Schweitzer Fellowship Program’s 2024 Celebration of Service on April 13.

Jade Kim and Suyeon Kim presenting their poster to Interim Dean GeursJade and Suyeon present their poster during the Celebration of Service. Photo credit: ASF AlabamaAlbert Schweitzer Fellows are students competitively chosen from graduate and professional degree programs in universities throughout the state. They come from an array of health disciplines and work tirelessly to address existing health disparities in their communities. Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so that fellows can continue to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care beyond their year of service.

The Alabama Schweitzer Fellowship Program released a story chronicling the dental students’ successes, challenges, and growth throughout the course of their 13-month fellowship project. After several initial detours, the project took shape as pop-up clinic presentations that expose middle school-aged children to oral health and the profession of dentistry.

In their final poster presentation, Jade and Suyeon addressed the urgent need for dental care in Alabama and the opportunity to create a pathway program to increase interest in dental careers for middle school students in Alabama. They concluded that it would be essential to maintain ongoing outreach efforts and preserve connections they established during their project to overcome initial barriers they experienced in their outreach.

ASF fellows from UAB SOD with Interim Dean GeursPictured (L-R): Dr. Ethan Madison, Jade Kim, Dr. Nicolaas Geurs (interim dean), Suyeon Kim, Vashti Convers, and Katelynn Clark. Photo credit: ASF Alabama“By carrying out a service project through the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, I was able to learn about the importance of tailoring assistance to the specific needs and preferences of the participant groups, rather than imposing predetermined solutions,” says Jade. “This was a valuable lesson that will optimize my future interactions with patients!”

Suyeon shared, “Since moving to Alabama for dental school, fostering a sense of purpose, belonging, and security has becoming increasingly important to me. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the conversation about diversity in a way that was both meaningful to me and the UAB SOD.”

Kristin Boggs, ASF of Alabama executive director, recognized SOD faculty who supported the project. “I want to especially thank Dr. Raquel Mazer for serving as their Academic Mentor and Dr. Carly Timmons McKenzie for serving as a critical resource for Jade and Suyeon as they revamped their project focus,” she says. “We value the time and guidance they each provided.”

Boggs went on to say, “We look forward to working with three School of Dentistry students in the 2024-25 cohort: Katelynn Clark, Vashti Convers, and Ethan Madison,” noting that ASF will have more details on their projects this summer.