By Marianne Sampogna Jacobson
Dental school remains a significant investment of time and money. The DDS program tuition at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, for example, is currently $119,360 per year. In order to encourage students with high potential to attend, the dental school has a robust scholarship program. Overall, 96 of the current enrolled students across all classes and programs have received institutional scholarships together totaling almost $1 million for the 2021-22 academic year. Each year, the Admissions Office selects 10 to 11 incoming students to receive a sizable award ($60,000 to $100,000 across three years) through the Dean’s Scholarship program. Most of these scholarships are funded by generous donor gifts and endowments, including the Alumni Association Student Scholarship Endowment. These awards are merit-based and students are selected because of their demonstrated achievement or personal qualities including leadership, philanthropy, strong character, high aptitude scores or potential to excel at the dental school curriculum. The scholarship program is supplemental to other forms of need-based assistance. “About 85% of our students qualify for and receive some kind of financial aid (federal- or state-funded loans) or scholarships or both,” shared Marco A. Castellanos, director of financial aid.
As it paid for one whole year, earning the scholarship inspired me to do my best every day, never skip class and try really hard to prove I was deserving.
—Dr. Eric McMahon ’95
Scholarships enrich the overall program and vitality of the institution. In general, scholarships impart many benefits to their school communities: they create motivated and appreciative students, cultivate loyal and generous alumni, increase diversity of backgrounds and thoughts and relieve financial stress to allow students to reach their full potential. Dr. Eric McMahon ’05, who completed his pediatric training at Harvard University in 2007, is an inspiring example of how receiving a scholarship propelled him to perform at his highest potential. He reflected, “As it paid for one whole year, earning the scholarship inspired me to do my best every day, never skip class and try really hard to prove I was deserving.”
Scholarships benefit the recipients in multiple ways. McMahon recalled the day he received his scholarship to the Dugoni School of Dentistry as one of the proudest moments of his life. The award ignited his motivation, which paid off with good grades and the opportunity to complete his pediatric residency studies. Building on this positive experience, he approaches his thriving pediatric practice in upstate New York every day with enthusiasm and pride.
Some scholarships are earmarked for students from various backgrounds with the goal of increasing diversity in the student body. Dr. Kimberly Carlyle-Clark ’00 was the recipient of a unique, one-time award match from the late Hall-of-Fame baseball player Joe Morgan. Dr. Craig Yarborough ’80, associate dean for institutional advancement and director of the Center for Success, recalled, “Art Dugoni sent letters to professional athletes of color to encourage them to donate matching funds to help create a full scholarship for deserving applicants. Joe called Art, who didn’t believe it was him, so when Joe said, ‘This is Joe Morgan,’ Art replied, ‘This is the Pope.’”
Morgan came to campus to meet Carlyle-Clark and a recognition luncheon was held to thank Morgan and members of the Joe Morgan Youth Foundation for the generous scholarship donation. “The relationship between me and dental school benefitted both sides,” said Carlyle-Clark. “The scholarship certainly helped me get a tremendous education at a cutting-edge institution, and it brought a diverse student like me into the fold of the Class of 2000 when there were fewer than a handful of African American students at the Dugoni School.”
Additionally, scholarships relieve stress, allowing students to reach their full potential. “So far it has benefited me by helping offset costs from dental school,” said Amanda Delgado, Class of 2024. “It’s just a huge stress reliever knowing that I have this scholarship to help support my goals and aspirations. In the future, the scholarship will allow me to start working towards my dreams at a faster rate because it will have helped cover some of the costs of my dental education.”
The scholarship certainly helped me get a tremendous education at a cutting-edge institution, and it brought a diverse student like me into the fold of the Class of 2000 when there were fewer than a handful of African American students at the Dugoni School.
—Dr. Kimberly Carlyle-Clark ‘00
Illustrating other benefits, the alumni scholarship recipients interviewed all continued on to specialty training after graduation from the Dugoni School of Dentistry, in part because their student debt was not as burdensome due to their scholarships. The humanistic model they were drawn to and experienced at the Dugoni School of Dentistry lives on through these alumni to this day. The motto at The Smile Lodge, the practice co-owned by McMahon along with his wife Dr. Megan McMahon ’15, is “Every Kid Deserves to Smile.” The Carlyle Orthodontics practice in Orlando, Florida, emphasizes a humanistic approach to care with a “friendly, caring environment.”
The people I met made me feel like a part of the Dugoni School family during my interview. They nailed it and every interview after that could not compare.
—Anthony Suber, Class of 2024
Several recipients citied the scholarship as a big factor in their decision to attend the Dugoni School of Dentistry, but it is noteworthy that other scholarship recipients would have chosen to attend the dental school even without the scholarship. Some prospective students had already made up their minds when they learned of their financial awards. Anthony Suber, Class of 2024, said of his first impression of the Dugoni School of Dentistry, “The people I met made me feel like a part of the Dugoni School family during my interview. They nailed it and every interview after that could not compare.” He was speechless when he learned of his award and shared that he will be forever grateful to the alumni who funded his award and to the dental school for having faith in him. McMahon felt likewise; he was sold on the Dugoni School of Dentistry from the get go, and was humbled by his scholarship award.
Definitely make your decisions based on your gut, not your pocketbook—what matters is how your work makes you feel at the end of the day.
— Dr. Jamie Sahouria ’04
There are myriad ways in which Dean’s Scholarship recipients give back. In addition to the financial gifts they now donate to their alma mater, they give back through the care of their patients, helping underserved communities and mentoring and supporting current dental students. One such generous alumna is Dr. Jamie Sahouria ’04, a pediatric dentist from Rohnert Park, California. Not only does she give back to the dental school financially, but she also donates her time and service. She is the current president of the Alumni Association where she focuses her efforts to “unite our already tight-knit alumni group and create as many opportunities to safely interact together as possible.” Sahouria, who completed her pediatric specialty training in 2007 at University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, hopes to carry on traditions of the past while creating new connections for the future.
Additionally, she and her office team participate in the Give Kids A Smile program every February to provide free dental health care to kids without access to services. Similarly, McMahon and his colleagues have treated more than 1,000 underserved children without dental insurance since they opened The Smile Lodge in 2014. Sahouria and McMahon also give back to the dental school by serving as adjunct faculty members at their alma mater, both guiding students in their shared specialty of pediatric dentistry. “I do try to give back through my patients,” said Carlyle-Clark, who completed her orthodontic specialty training at University of Tennessee in 2004. “I get to know them as people (not just teeth), especially kids and teens who many adults ignore. I get in tune with them and I aim to be a positive sounding board. It is the humanistic approach of the Dugoni School that I try to embody. It’s an enriching relationship and experience for both of us.” She recently received a very satisfying email from a former patient who is currently in dental school, and who credited Carlyle-Clark with being an important role model.
Current students Delgado and Suber pay it forward by volunteering. Both have histories of service to their communities. Suber has coached numerous kids’ sports teams and volunteers with Heal the Bay, an environmental group that promotes ocean health through beach cleanups and other activities. Delgado volunteered at Camp Kesem, a free summer camp for children whose parents have cancer, as well as with a nonprofit dental organization that provides low-cost dental implant care to patients in need. They both agree it is enriching and inspiring to be able to help others, and is something they will continue to do in the future.
The ecosystem of scholarships, from the donors to the recipients to the student body that benefits from the additional diversity and academic strength, promotes a culture and environment of future giving. Carlyle-Clark donates to the Dr. Edward Bryan ’57 Endowment which provides funding for African American dental students. McMahon recently created an endowment with more than $50,000 for promising pediatric dental students in honor of a pivotal role model in his life, Dr. A. Jeffrey Wood, former chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. McMahon thought he was heading in the direction of being an implant specialist, but when Wood pulled him aside and told him he was impressed with his work with children in the clinic, McMahon changed direction and switched his focus to pediatric dentistry, and he is immensely satisfied with this choice and his career path.
In the future, the scholarship will allow me to start working towards my dreams at a faster rate because it will have helped cover some of the costs of my dental education.
— Amanda Delgado, Class of 2024
Another way alumni give back is by serving as positive role models for others within the profession and school. Carlyle-Clark, McMahon and Sahouria have all become ambassadors of the school and dentistry in general. They exude positive energy and enthusiasm for their profession and embody the humanistic approach they learned at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Alumni continue to give back to current students with advice too. Carlyle-Clark offered, “Stay encouraged… it gets tough when you launch your own practice. But treat all others, coworkers, staff and patients alike, as you would like to be treated.” And Sahouria shared, “Definitely make your decisions based on your gut, not your pocketbook—what matters is how your work makes you feel at the end of the day.”
These scholarship recipients, who value their education and strive to make a difference in the profession and in their communities, serve as role models for others and reflect the pay-it-forward benefits such investments yield. Those benefits leave a lasting impact on the entire Dugoni School of Dentistry community, the dental profession and all of their patients.
Marianne Sampogna Jacobson, BA, MBA, is a freelance writer from Marin County.
To contribute to a student scholarship fund or to create an endowment, contact the Development Office at 415.929.6406 or email@example.com.