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UMSOD Student Group Wins Diversity Award

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Written by Chris Zang

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) has received the University of Maryland, Baltimore Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Recognition Award. The student chapter received the award for its promotion of diversity and service to the Hispanic community. The chapter will be recognized during a special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr./Black History Month event on Feb. 10.

"It's an honor for our HDA student chapter to receive this distinguished recognition. We continually strive to serve the local Hispanic community while maintaining a diverse group of members. We are thankful for our dedicated volunteers and supporters for their continued efforts towards our organization's goals and overall mission," states HDA President Richard Duarte, DDS '15.

The chapter focuses on service, leadership, education and advocacy. It participates in community health fairs, organizes screenings and promotes awareness of the need for oral health care in Baltimore's Hispanic community. The UMSOD chapter was named National Student Chapter of the Year by the National Hispanic Dental Association in September.

In September, the chapter held a health fair at Wolfe Street Academy, where more than 90 children from kindergarten through fifth grade were screened for oral cancer and any conditions needing immediate attention. In November, chapter volunteers screened and educated more than 70 community members of all ages at the Langley Park Health Fair.

The HDA student chapter at UMSOD primarily serves the Hispanic community, but most of the members are not Hispanic. They learn key Spanish dental terms during lunch-and-learns to better interact with patients.

"The award is a well-deserved recognition to our HDA student chapter. It has been a consistent work over the years, with the strong support of the dean's office. As the faculty advisor, I am proud of our students and faculty members, who work hard and are committed to providing care to the Hispanic population in Maryland," states Assistant Professor Cecelia Velez, DDS.

Adam Zewe contributed to this story.

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