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Moving Forward Committee

moving forward logo

The UTHSC College of Dentistry embraces the values of fairness, representation, respect and recognition in dental education. To provide the highest-quality care to all patients, health care professionals must be educated in environments that recognize the benefits of our differences.

The Moving Forward Committee was created in 2018 to help the College of Dentistry achieve this goal. The committee is designed to enhance the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff in the College of Dentistry. The committee recognizes that this begins with providing exposure to the dental profession, as well as resources and guidance, for socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged students, who have yet to see a path to a career in dentistry. Our mission is to enrich the learning environment where multiculturalism is considered an asset through the building of relationships that support our efforts to recruit, retain, and promote students, faculty, and staff who are underrepresented in the field of dentistry.

Moving Forward Committee initiatives include:

  • Working with UTHSC’s Pre-Health Scholars to develop relationships with undergraduate students interested in dentistry
  • Launching a mentoring program for prospective students by working with pre-health advisers at undergraduate institutions
  • Funding on-campus experiences with dental students for competitive applicants
  • Creating student-led outreach opportunities to introduce young people to the dental profession
  • Establishing a more equitable and inclusive community of belonging for everyone at the UTHSC College of Dentistry.

The Moving Forward Committee welcomes and is grateful for the generous support of our College of Dentistry alumni.

Opportunities to show your support include:

  • Mentoring undergraduate students
  • Becoming a committee member
  • Donating to our programs

Email for more information. 


Prepare Sub-Committee

Diversity in Dentistry (DID) Mentorship Program

The Moving Forward Committee has developed a mentorship program partnering with local high school students in the Memphis area. This program was created to increase the number of diverse students enrolled in the dental and dental hygiene programs at UTHSC.


The mission of the Diversity in Dentistry program is to meet the dental care needs in the Memphis area minority communities by increasing the number of diverse students in the field of dentistry and dental hygiene at UTHSC.

Through consistent mentoring from UTHSC dentistry students and exposure to UTHSC, minority middle and high school students can make an informed decision to attend UTHSC for dental or dental hygiene school. By increasing the number of diverse dental and dental hygiene graduates at UTHSC, the lack of access to quality dental care decreases as a result of these graduates meeting the dental needs in minority communities.

The Mentors

Current dental and dental hygiene students will mentor local minority middle and high school students who have expressed an interest in a career in dentistry. We believe when minority students see professionals who look like them, they view the career as attainable.

Dentistry students will present monthly forums on topics that will include college preparation, importance of discipline, dental careers, and test prep. There are also opportunities for Eleventh and Twelfth grade mentees to participate in an on-campus tour and hands on lab exercise.

Participating as a Mentee

Students interested in becoming a mentee should contact Felisa Jackson at

Recruit Sub-Committee
The College of Dentistry is committed to providing a healthy social environment for prospective students and staff in accordance with the University's core values of dignity, respect and inclusion.
Retain Sub-Committee

Connection is Important!
Research has shown that the beliefs, , and outlooks within an academic space or campus climate/culture and sense of connection contribute to the retention of all students (especially underrepresented students), faculty, & staff. The Retain sub-committee focuses on making this connection happen within every aspect of our college.

Interested in improving our community? Contact Nikki Dyer at

Committee Advisers


Adepitan A. Owosho, DDS
Committee Chair, Associate Professor

Nikki Dyer headshot

Nikki Dyer EdD, NCC
Assistant Professor

Tony Burns photo

Felisa Jackson RDH, BSDH


Albert Gruber, DMD
Assistant Professor, Department of General Dentistry






Apr 2, 2024