Students Shine at Hispanic Dental Association Meeting

Students won awards, scholarships, and participated in a social media challenge

Stephen Ogarekpe, Desirae Lee, Princess Stark, and Luis Romero at the Hispanic Dental Association Annual Meeting.

Students in the School of Dental Medicine’s chapter of the Student National Dental Association/ Hispanic Student Dental Association (SNDA/HSDA) recently participated in the 2024 Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) Annual Meeting and Conference in New York. At the meeting, students won awards and scholarships, presented research, and participated in a social media challenge hosted by the HDA.

“The Hispanic Dental Association has several programs to help support students throughout their dental education and advance their mission of providing service, education/research, advocacy and leadership as they promote overall health of the Hispanic/LatinX and underrepresented communities, ” said faculty advisor and associate dean for students Dr. Sarita Arteaga. “Some of these include scholarships provided through the H.D.A. Foundation, the Nuestros Ninos challenge to address oral health care issues in the pediatric population and opportunities to present research to the membership community.  I am proud to see our students participating and representing the UConn School of Dental Medicine in addition to being recognized for their efforts.”

Desirae Lee presents her case study during the Nuestros Niños competition.

Desirae Lee, a second-year student, won second prize for her case study Enhancing Oral Health Outcomes in Hispanic Pediatric Populations: A case study on Integrative Dental Care for a Medicaid-Enrolled Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder during the HDA’s Nuestros Niños contest. Nuestros Niños, a program hosted by Colgate and the HDA, addresses oral health care issues for Hispanic children less than 18 years of age.

“This case underscored the importance of patient-centered care, cultural competence, and the importance of access to the operating room for dentists,” said Desirae.

Princess Stark, second-year student and co-president of the SNDA/HSDA, won third place for her research titled Mechanisms in TMJ Health and Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis, which studied Manibular Condylar Cartilage degeneration and the treatment of osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint—the most common cause of chronic pain of nondental origin in the orofacial area.

Princess Stark receives an award for her research on osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint during the meeting’s scientific poster competition.

Luis Romero, second-year student and secretary of the SNDA/HSDA, won a scholarship sponsored by Crest and Oral-B that aims to support Hispanic and Latino students during their academic training.

Students also participated in the EPIC Challenge, which was created by the HDA to help address the need for both student and professional chapters to raise oral health awareness in their respective communities. For six months, students in the UConn chapter of the SNDA/HSDA used their Instagram page to post at least three monthly educational posts—with at least one a month being in Spanish—to encourage the local community to learn and better utilize dental services. The posts included videos, illustrations, and animations. The students were finalists in this competition.