Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award: Wanda G. Wright, DDS ’88, MS

Dr. Wanda G. WrightThis award honors a graduate for significant professional accomplishments in science, dentistry, or education. In 2022, it recognizes Wanda G. Wright, DDS ’88, for her dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, and contributions to public health in the dental field.  

Wright serves as the assistant dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the East Carolina University (ECU) School of Dental Medicine. In this role, she oversees all diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and programming. One such program is the ECU Poverty Simulation Exercise, a yearly event that provides health sciences students and residents opportunities to gain a personal look at how poverty impacts patients’ lives at every level. 

Wright earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1988 from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD). She also holds a Master of Science degree in health services administration from D’Youville College. She completed a Master of Science degree in dentistry – dental public health and a certificate of advanced graduate study in dental public health at Boston University. A diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health, she additionally holds a certificate of clinical investigation from Tufts University. 

Before her appointment as assistant dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Wright served as a faculty member in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine and head of the Division of Public Health, Advocacy, and Outreach at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. 

Wright’s research interests include oral health disparities, oral health-related quality of life, and access to care. She has received funding from the Duke Endowment to improve access to dental care for school children in rural North Carolina. She also has received several grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration to diversify the oral health workforce and to develop a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and Master of Public Health combined program at Tufts University; she served as program director at Tufts from 2011-2015. 

In addition to her work at ECU, Wright is a member of several associations including the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, the International and American Association of Dental Research, the National Dental Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Dental Education Association, and the American Association of Women Dentists.