DENTAL STUDENT SPOTLIGHT - UTSD Dental Student, Mary A. Becker
The Journal of the Greater Houston Dental Society is proud to feature fourth-year dental student
and Houston ASDA officer, Ms. Mary Becker for our Dental Student Spotlight!
• DDS Class of 2017, University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston
• President, UTSD P.E.D.S. Club
• Fundraising/Events Chair, UTSD ASDA
• Secretary, UTSD Alignment Club
• 2016 GHDS Scholarship Recipient
During the summer of 2015, I visited Nicaragua and spent my summer living in a small rural town as a volunteer with Amigos de las Américas. I’ll never forget the quote that was written across the back of my organizational T-shirt: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This quote by Margaret Mead has influenced my life in many ways accurately reflects my desire to be involved with organized dentistry.
I am a native Houstonian and attended St. Agnes Academy for high school and then followed my brother to Texas A&M University. I’ve always enjoyed being involved in clubs and organizations. While at A&M, I joined a sorority and a safe-ride organization called CARPOOL, among other groups, and remained involved in them throughout my time there. The idea of being a part of something bigger than myself appeals to me. I enjoy being part of the decision making processes that influence these groups. When I came to UTSD, I wanted to involve myself in the different clubs and societies. I decided to apply to be ASDA Events Coordinator and secured the officer position. After my first ASDA Convention, I was absolutely hooked on “Organized Dentistry.” I attended my first Vendor Fair during the Chicago National Leadership Conference in November of 2013 and this past January, it was my responsibility to coordinate our Vendor Fair at UTSD, the largest one to date. We were able to host over 44 vendors and raised over $31,000 for our ASDA Chapter. My other responsibilities as Events Coordinator have included planning our Lunch and Learns and our Loupe Fair. I have enjoyed getting to know all of the vendors whom we work with and am happy to be able to connect these vendors with other students as well.
Aside from organized dentistry, something else I am very passionate about is volunteer work. I spent the summer of 2007 living in Nicaragua as a volunteer of the Amigos de las Américas. Amigos can be described as a summer Peace Corps for high school students. I spent six weeks living in a rural Nicaraguan community and planning/executing a community project that would be sustainable and benefit the entire community. The
experience was so impactful that I returned the following summer to a different community in Nicaragua to carry out a new project. We also taught
classes about general health and youth leadership development. This experience made me realize how much I wanted to pursue a career in the dental field. We were given supplies donated by Colgate so that we could host oral hygiene lessons. We were able to give out these supplies
to many children who did not yet have toothbrushes nor the knowledge of how to care for their teeth.
These experiences, and the 12 months I spent studying and living abroad in Spain in 2011 and 2013, have enabled me to become fluent in Spanish, which greatly helps in the clinics at UTSD. My Spanish abilities, passion for service, and dental education combine to offer me rare opportunities. I wrote a proposal to Amigos de las Américas to allow me to return to Nicaragua and visit the communities that were hosting volunteers. I traveled to ten communities and gave dental lessons centered on brushing and flossing technique and caries prevention, formation, and progression. I was able to give out hundreds of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss samples that were donated from the companies I had interacted with as the ASDA Events Coordinator. The story of my trip was published in the UTSD eFlash, the ASDA Houston Fill, and I was selected to be the Houston Texas Association of Women Dentists Member of the Month for October to recognize my community service efforts.
I also try to remain an active member and officer in various school groups. I’ve served as the President of the Pediatric Dentistry Club, secretary of the Alignment Club, a mentor for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, and a member of the UTSD chapters of Psi Omega, Alpha Omega, Texas Association of Women Dentists, and the Student Research Group. I’ve presented research at the Star of the South Dental Meeting in 2015 and in 2016 was awarded first place in the Application category of the UTSD Table Clinic Presentations after doing research on the bond strength of dental luting agents. I also very much enjoy giving back locally. I’ve volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Club, various elementary schools, and different health fairs/oral screening events around Houston. I think I am incredibly privileged to be a part of such
a respectable profession and that I should use the skills I have developed to give back. After dental school, I hope to attend an Orthodontic residency program and return to Houston to practice.
Combining my profession of dentistry, along with my passion and service, is something I want to continue the rest of my life. I am so grateful for organizations like the GHDS, TDA, and ADA for giving me the resources to make that possible. I’m especially grateful to the GHDS for awarding me the Greater Houston Dental Society 2015-2016 Dental Student Scholarship. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are involved and passionate about our futures and organized dentistry, so I was extremely excited and grateful to hear from the GHDS that I was awarded the scholarship.