Midwestern University Dental Students Earn Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Scholarship
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (Oct. 6, 2023) - Midwestern University in cooperation with the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of a scholarship intended to foster student body diversity and extend opportunities for healthcare students from underrepresented minority groups. Five dental medicine students — Wendie Baquero, Feonia Kearby, Silvia Matz, Pamela Torres, and Maria Yepes — were awarded a Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Diversity Admissions Scholarship to attend Midwestern University’s College of Dental Medicine-Illinois (CDMI).
“We developed this scholarship as part of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and to ensure students who share our mission to improve health in the community are able to achieve their educational goals,” said Lora Vitek, executive director of the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “By supporting young dental professionals through these scholarships, we also hope to improve access to dental care in areas of Illinois the state that need it most.”
Scholarship recipient Wendie Baquero (CDMI 2027) is a first-generation college student. She was born in Ecuador and moved to the United States when she was eight years old. Wendie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioscience from Farmingdale State College, in New York, while also working as a dental assistant. “I have, for as long as I remember, always wanted to be a dentist. My goal is to be a healthcare provider who can put a smile on my patients’ faces,” Wendie said. “I plan to work hard throughout my four years here, and this scholarship is a financial weight off my shoulders.”
Feonia Kearby (CDMI 2027) graduated from the College of Lake County in Illinois with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene and from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. “I grew up in a very rural town on the island of Jamaica where access to dental care is almost non-existent. When I was nine years old a dental mission visited my village, and I had my teeth cleaned for the first time. I was so fascinated by this experience that I knew then I wanted to travel the world and fix people’s teeth,” Feonia said. “When I moved to the United States, I became a dental hygienist working in public health and saw where a career in dentistry would allow me to improve the health of people, especially in underserved communities.”
Silvia Matz (CDMI 2027) earned a Bachelor of Science in Community Health, a minor in Biology, and a master’s degree in public health with a Global Health concentration from George Mason University, and before enrolling at CDMI lived in Sterling, Virginia. "I researched the Midwestern University dental program and learned about the remarkable success rate of students who passed the board exam. Once I became acquainted with the program, I knew that no other school could meet my standards," Silvia said. Her journey into dental medicine is a testament to her determination, as she transitioned from diverse career experiences in real estate and dental billing to pursue her true calling. Silvia is the first in her family to attend graduate school and is also a dedicated single mother of three children. “This scholarship partially helps me to fulfill my dream of becoming a dentist,” she added.
Hailing from Yonkers, New York, Pamela Torres (CDMI 2027) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Hunter College-CUNY. “My journey towards a career in dental medicine began as a dental assistant, where I fell in love with dentistry and was further motivated by the health disparities in my community,” Pamela said. “My mother moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic to provide me with a better life and opportunities. I made sure her sacrifices were not in vain and have worked hard to be where I am today. I will be the first dentist in my family. The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation scholarship is a huge help in easing the cost of dental school.”
Maria Yepes (CDMI 2027) was born in Manizales, Colombia, and moved to Boca Raton, Florida at an early age. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida before deciding to enroll at Midwestern University. "I was hoping to find a place where the culture was uplifting, where faculty sincerely supported the students to become the best practitioners possible," she said. Maria is the first in her family to pursue a healthcare degree and her passion for dental medicine stems from her desire to make oral health care more accessible, especially for underserved communities.
The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Diversity Admissions Scholarship is available to incoming first-year students at CDMI who belong to underrepresented minority groups as defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These competitive scholarships are awarded based on past academic performance; commitment to diversity, leadership, and community service; and demonstrated financial need. Consideration is also given to applicants who are first-generation college students.
Midwestern University’s College of Dental Medicine-Illinois offers a doctorate in dental medicine (D.M.D) degree as part of a four-year program that includes academic coursework, preclinical simulation studies, practical clinical dentistry, and community clinical rotations. The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois and works to improve the overall health and well-being of people in Illinois.
Learn more about the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois at midwestern.edu, and the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation at deltadentalil.com/ddilfoundation.
Midwestern University is a private, not-for-profit graduate and postgraduate educational institution specializing in the health sciences with 12 colleges located on two campuses. The Illinois campus, located on a 105-acre site in Downers Grove, is home to nearly 3,000 students and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove; the College of Health Sciences, Downers Grove; the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois; the Chicago College of Optometry; and the College of Graduate Studies, Downers Grove. The Arizona campus, located on a 156-acre site in Glendale, is home to over 3,900 students and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Glendale; the College of Health Sciences, Glendale; the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona; the Arizona College of Optometry; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Graduate Studies, Glendale; and the Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit https://www.midwestern.edu or call 623-572-3215.
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation was formed in March 2008 by Delta Dental of Illinois, a not-for-profit dental service corporation with a mission to improve the oral health of the communities it serves. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois and works to support and improve the oral health of people in Illinois. In the past decade, combined efforts of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation have provided nearly $20 million to programs and organizations in Illinois that improve the oral health of the residents of Illinois. For more information, visit https://www.deltadentalil.com/ddilfoundation/.