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Urban Health Program

UIC College of Dentistry Urban Health Program Heading link

diversity collage of students smiling and working together

Expanding opportunities for underrepresented minority students

The mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry’s Urban Health Program is to recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, in the Oral Health Sciences, and to expand educational opportunities for these populations at the pre-college (K-12), undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.

We are committed to:

  • Providing avenues for early exposure to the dental professions for students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • Providing academic enrichment opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from underrepresented populations who are interested in or pursuing degrees in the Oral Health Sciences.
  • Supporting and participating in community health initiatives and programs, particularly those that are concerned with addressing oral health disparities and community health.
  • Partnering with the University’s Urban Health Program and other educational institutions and organizations to establish and maintain pathways for admissions of traditionally underrepresented student groups into UIC’s health colleges and degree programs.
  • Actively recruiting African American, Latino, and Native American undergraduate students throughout Illinois, and encouraging them to apply to dental school.
  • Conducting ongoing research related to underrepresented dental student experiences and outcomes, particularly for those students in the pathway programs at the University of Illinois campuses.
  • Encouraging urban health experiences for all students interested in and committed to practicing in dental underserved urban areas, especially in Illinois.

Diversity at UIC College of Dentistry Heading link

UIC boasts one of the most diverse student populations among colleges and universities in the nation, especially among public research universities. UIC is a federally designated minority serving institution, which covers racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds along with gender identities and sexual orientations.

The College of Dentistry prides itself on inclusion, with diversity at the core of its set of values. Academic, care and research programs are all dedicated to building a culture of excellence that is grounded in principles of equity and social justice.

“Our country (and our state) are becoming more diverse every day,” said Darryl Pendleton, Associate Dean for Student and Diversity Affairs and Executive Director of the UIC Urban Health Program. “Our college is committed to training and producing healthcare professionals to serve our constituents. Patients do better when they have a comfort level with their providers who represent communities that are underserved.”

Pendleton said the increase in opportunity is driving the diversity within the dental industry. “At one time, it was out of reach for so many,” he said. “There’s increasing awareness now, and making sure youth know that being a dentist is an option for them as a career.”

Urban Health Programs Heading link

The College of Dentistry Urban Health Programs are focused on providing programming, resources and support for traditionally underrepresented students, which gives them early exposure to the dental professions. The UHP hosts events that bring together current and former students that have had similar paths growing up and getting into college. The program hosts a pre-dental event where current UHP students show prospective undergrad and high school under-represented students what it is like to be in dental school. They work one-on-one with the students to help them improve important dental school skills including hand-skills and even help on writing application personal statements.
The Urban Health Programs include:

Daniel Morales

My name is Daniel Morales and I am a second year dental student.

“… The first few months of the program, I had a tough time trying to figure out how to study the material. After completing the program, I transformed my poor study habits from undergrad and exceled in the advanced science courses offered by the program. I am very grateful for this exposure since dental school is even more rigorous, but I can manage my time more effectively and know exactly how to study because of this experience…”

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Sydney Patterson

My name is Sydney Patterson and I am a second year dental student.

“…I have been welcomed into a warm, supportive community that advocates for my success in dentistry. It is a space that I feel safe to come to when I am struggling academically but a community that I am also excited to share my accomplishments with. I am truly appreciative for the program and I hope to be able to provide the same support that I was given to future pre-dental students…”

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Devin Crockett

My name is Devin Crockett and I am a third year dental student.

“… looking back on it now, I could not imagine entering dental school without UHP PAP. The academic material is similar to what you will see during the first year of dental school. The pace of the UHP Summer Pre-Matriculation Program helped me gauge where I needed to improve or become more efficient in my studies. Overall, it was a great experience and I made lifelong friends/colleagues along the way…”

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Urban Health Program Student Plans to Give Back to Chicago Neighborhood Heading link

Contact Heading link

For more information on the College of Dentistry’s Urban Health Program:

Dr. Darryl D. Pendleton
Associate Dean for Student and Diversity Affairs
801 South Paulina Street, Room 102GD

Ms. Braulia Espinosa
Director of Student and Diversity Affairs
801 South Paulina Street, Room 104B

Ms. Meah Rogers
Assistant Director of Student and Diversity Affairs
801 South Paulina Street, Room 104C