Empowering a New Oral Health Profession
Everaid Fokim is one of six students in the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s dual degree dental hygiene/dental therapy program who received a generous scholarship from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
“The scholarship will significantly reduce my debt at graduation,” said Fokim. “The financial piece was always the biggest deterrent for me. This relieves a lot of stress and enables me to focus on school rather than how to pay for school.”
An artist at heart, Fokim was drawn to dentistry in 11th grade, after taking a course in dental occupations at North High School in St. Paul, Minn. He later enrolled in classes at a nearby community college to complete a dental assisting program. While attending community college, he set his sights on dental school and began taking general education credits when he learned about the University of Minnesota’s dental therapy program at a college fair. He says it was the ideal choice.
Fokim says his love of visual art aligns with the skills he is learning in his third year of the program. “When I am doing restorative dentistry, it’s like art to me. You get to recreate something. It feels like sculpture or a work of art. It is a combination of art and science.”
Fokim will graduate in May 2020 with the dual degree and is encouraged by the growth in the dental therapy profession, which prepares graduates with all the skills of a dental hygienist plus specific restorative dentistry skills. He is interested in serving underserved communities in the Twin Cities after graduation. “I am eager to work with people who are less able to help themselves,” he said.
“A few years ago, when I Googled ‘dental therapists’, every other type of therapist would come up,” said Fokim. “Now, there are a lot of job opportunities for dental therapists. I am super grateful to the foundation for helping to make it possible for my classmates and me to enter this new profession.”
Since its inception 10 years ago, @DeltaDentalMN has supported the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s mission to prepare oral health professionals and serve the community with $7 million in gifts for scholarships, new clinics, clinic support and more. We are grateful. #SmileDecade #Driven