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UHP Student Testimonials

UIC’s Urban Health Program Heading link

The program represents 40 years of partnerships and collaborations with program alumni, urban communities and institutional partners in the greater Chicago area and across the state of Illinois. Since its inception in 1978, the program has recruited, retained and graduated more than 7,000 UIC-UHP alumni now working in health-related fields.

UHP provides a number of avenues for early exposure and academic enrichment opportunities to the dental professions for students from traditionally underrepresented groups. One example is the UHP Early Outreach Program serves as an academic pipeline to college for grammar and high school students.

“The College of Dentistry has been part of the UIC Urban Health Program since its inception because we’re committed to providing a diverse dental workforce for the state of IL,” said Pendleton.  “We are a minority serving institution and we have a high number of first-generation students. We also accept DACA and undocumented students.”

Many of the student in UIC’s College of Dentistry’s Urban Health Program are first generation students that were able to overcome many typical challenges using resources from the program.

Urban Health Program students are: Heading link

  • Black, Latino, or Native American students currently enrolled in a degree program at UIC that leads to a healthcare or medical research career
  • Graduate students, or aspiring undergraduate students, from traditionally underrepresented groups who have an interest in pursuing a healthcare career,
  • Elementary and High School students who participate in UHP pipeline activities or the UIC Early Outreach Program or any program that helps students prepare for college and exposes them to career opportunities in healthcare
  • Students who are concerned about healthcare disparities that plague urban, poor, predominantly minority populated communities
  • Outstanding students and leaders with a commitment to service and to social justice.
Daniel Morales

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

I was born and raised in Chicago and I am the first in my family to attend professional school. I had the privilege to be in the Urban Health Program (UHP) Post-Baccalaureate Admissions Program (PAP) program and the Summer Pre-Matriculation Program.  PAP covered a lot of material in such a short amount of time. 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. Now that I have solidified my study habits, it has made it easier to be successful in dental school.

Amber Hanson-Dansby

My name is Amber Hanson-Dansby and I am a second year dental student.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and I am the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree. The Urban Health Program (UHP) provided me with one of the best academic experiences I’ve had. I was given multiple resources to ensure my acceptance into dental school and also my success once I became dental student. The Post-baccalaureate Program as well as the Summer Pre-matriculation Program did an amazing job preparing me for dental school. I became a much more competitive student. I am so happy I was given the opportunity to be a part of the UHP.

Sydney Patterson

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

The Urban Health Program (UHP) has been a vital resource to my career in dentistry. My path to dentistry was “untraditional” and I decided late in my undergraduate education that it was the career that I wanted to pursue. The UHP Dental Admissions Test (DAT) review course provided the opportunity for me to learn more about dentistry, tips to study for the DAT, and the space to build relationships with faculty and dental students. I also gained valuable advice on how to prepare for dental school interviews, write a resume, and how to create a standout personal statement, all of which I used during my time abroad to prepare for and stay connected to dentistry. I also had the privilege of being a student in the Summer Pre-matriculation Program (SPP). I will be honest in saying that I was initially discouraged when I was advised to complete the summer program before attending school in the fall, but now I can truly say the opportunity was a blessing!

The summer program allowed me to prepare for dental school by completing an accelerated program that would be similar to the courses that I would complete in dental school. The loads of support from faculty and peer mentors, aided in my completion of the rigorous program. Studying for the courses allowed me to create new study methods and practice time management skills that were catered to success. I was also able to meet colleagues that I still keep in contact with months after completing SPP. Overall, since participating in the UHP, 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.

Students Take Their Knowledge Back to the Community Heading link

Many students that have participated in the UHP get the chance to serve their community’s health needs, both during dental school and after graduation when they begin practicing. Some may even return to the same neighborhoods they grew up in.

“I like the idea of being able to help people that live in the neighborhood,” said Saul Ramirez, a fourth year dental student. “It feels very rewarding.”

“The west side of Chicago is still home for me, and it’s important for me to be able to give back, said Moses Rasberry, a fourth year dental student. I plan to give back both as a clinician and as an educator in my community. I want to help others like myself move forward.”

For future dental students who have had similar paths, Ramirez offers this advice: “never be afraid to ask questions. Get involved, join dental clubs. Just put yourself out there, and learn as much as you can, because there are resources out there that can help you.”

Devin Crockett

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

Initially, I was not very excited about joining the Urban Health Program (UHP) Post-Baccalaureate Admissions Program (PAP) because I felt I was ready for dental school at that moment in time. However, 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.

Raul Quinones Fabela

My name is Raul Quinones Fabela and I am a second year dental student.

As a first-generation college student, it was difficult to find programs aimed at preparing undergraduates for a career in the healthcare field. Fortunately, I came across UHP, which not only helped ready myself for dental school but has enhanced my experience as a dental student overall. Through the DAT review course, I was given valuable resources which significantly improved my test-taking skills and ultimately helped raise my test scores. Programs like Post-Bacc and SPP incorporated courses into their curriculum which eased my transition to the rigorous coursework of dental school and helped shape my academic competency as an upper-level student. Mentoring from programs like these guided me through the application process and made me feel encouraged to continue with my pursuit of this profession. Thanks to the role played by UHP, I was able to successfully matriculate into dental school and undoubtedly believe it can do the same for others.

For more information about the UIC College of Dentistry’s Urban Help Program, visit our website.