September 12, 2023 | Downers Grove, IL
In keeping with Midwestern University’s dedication to community service, students from the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois (CDMI) have invested their time and expertise in volunteer work.
Dental student Maria Flynn (CDMI ’25) said, “As the president of the Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA), we put first helping those in most need. We are currently working with the University and Chicago’s 15th District Police Station to provide refugees who have been residing in the police station with dental care, food, clothes, and more.” Maria shared the impact of this experience. “My experience has been incredible and has helped me grow not only professionally, but also as an individual. Seeing the refugees live the way they do in search of a better life for themselves and their families reminded me of coming to the U.S. with my family.” She added she came to the country with her family to become a dentist and create a better life for her and her family.
Dental student Paige Madden (CDMI ’25) is also assisting the community via the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship. “My volunteer work is dedicated to enhancing oral health literacy among the senior population residing in the Chicago suburbs. My aim is to foster a sense of ease when it comes to dental terminology, navigating the complexities of dental insurance, and discovering accessible and affordable dental care options within the community through an engaging and informative oral health lecture series. By providing valuable knowledge and empowering seniors, I strive to improve their oral health outcomes and overall well-being. Currently, I am deeply involved in curating comprehensive oral health lectures that center around crucial subjects like oral cancers, periodontal disease, and the dynamics of oral health as it pertains to the aging process. Simultaneously, I actively participate in various events hosted by a senior living facility. These occasions, which include their vibrant summer celebration and engaging bingo Saturdays, not only serve as opportunities for me to connect with the community but also enable me to gain firsthand insight into their unique requirements and preferences. In addition, we are proactively engaged in a collaborative effort to bring physical therapy students on board. Their involvement aims to empower seniors by demonstrating the proper utilization of gym equipment within their facilities. Similarly, we are orchestrating the involvement of pharmacy students to conduct informative sessions on common medications, shedding light on potential side effects and ensuring the seniors' well-being through informed choices.”
“Even the most seemingly minor changes can wield across numerous lives. I aim to be someone who fosters a renewed trust and reliance upon dental professionals. In the process, my ultimate goal is to instill a newfound confidence and optimism, paving the way for seniors to embrace dentistry once more, thus enhancing both their oral health and their overall quality of life,” Paige said.
Maria said volunteer work is an important aspect to prepare her for her future role in dentistry. “As a healthcare professional it is important to know that not everyone has the same access to care, and we are able to help them achieve an improved oral health status by contributing to those communities who need us the most.” She also encourages other students to volunteer. "Unfortunately, life is not as fair as we might want to believe. But fortunately, we can help those who are struggling the most. With our help, the future generations can be better.”
Maria and Paige highlighted the impact of their Midwestern University education on their volunteer work. Maria said, “Midwestern University has not only provided me with the education I need to become a healthcare professional to help those in need, but they have also provided us in HSDA with funds and tools to help our community in the community service events. They have supported us in our journey at all times. As the president of HSDA, I been organizing events and building relationships to be able to help our communities.” Paige added, “The combination of my invaluable experience and my dual degree of Master of Public Health equip me with a solid foundation for embarking on a meaningful career centered around tackling health disparities within my community. By effectively addressing and implementing public health action, I aim to make a significant impact. This fellowship serves as a crucial stepping stone in comprehending the unique needs of the community and devising strategies to overcome barriers to care effectively.”
Midwestern University is committed to fostering and supporting volunteer work, educational growth, and community service for students in order to create well-rounded, patient-centered future healthcare professionals. Midwestern University also offers dental medicine degree programs in Downers Grove and Glendale.