Left to right: Drs. Valerie Godfrey, Pamela Alston, Veronical McClurkin, Simiade Fabiyi, Yamrot Alemu, Lula Tsegay.

Telling Her Story

Contributor
School of Dentistry

In observance of Women’s History Month, the UCSF Student National Dental Association (SNDA) collaborated with the National Dental Association’s (NDA) 6th District to bring to campus UCSF alumna who were SNDA members as students.

Each alumna made “herstory” by sharing her background and special attributes she called upon to realize her dream to become a dentist. Two alumna shared very palpably the courage it took to leave their native countries and families behind in order to come to the U.S. to realize their aspirations.

All shared the courage it took to start embark on their career paths. They shared their passion for helping others in need. It stemmed from the oral health disparities and access barriers they witnessed or experienced growing up. And now, each is making a positive impact her own way.

These alumna are at different stages in their careers. Collectively, these outstanding women dentists have carved out career paths in private practice, corporate dentistry, the Department of Corrections, county jail system, the UCSF School of Dentistry, a community college dental assisting program, the military, community health centers, and starting a nongovernmental organization to provide dental services globally.

Three of the panelists have earned masters degrees in either Public Policy, Public Health, or Oral Biology. The panelists were: Drs. Veronical McClurkin ’80, Pamela Arbuckle Alston ’82, Lula Tsegay ’94, Valerie Godfrey MS Oral Biology ’95, Simiade Fabiyi ’15, Yamrot Alemu ’16. The panelists spanned generations. They lived up to the theme of the program, “I’m Every Woman.”

The program started out with a slide show of these women with background music “I’m Every Woman” and “Respect” sung by Aretha Franklin. The program ended with a video on the Dr. McClurkin’s global contributions.

Students stayed after the formal program to chat with the alumna informally. Alumna who graduated more than a generation ago were delighted to see the improvements at UCSF in dental education, the dental center and the student experience.

This Women’s History Month event was the brainstorm of SNDA President Maritess Aristorenas. She sent an email to the SNDA Faculty Advisor who is also the NDA District Trustee asking, “Would you and any other strong, empowered, female dentists be interested in doing … a panel? Our team truly enjoyed the realness and openness of the women … at the NDA conference that we wanted to bring it to our school.”

And the rest as they say is “herstory.” Aristorenas commented, “The SNDA UCSF Women Alumnae Panel was an empowering experience. The panelists spoke eloquently and openly about dentistry issues that women face in the business world. It was truly amazing to women of different generations come together to paint the evolution of women in dentistry.”

Alumna panelist Dr. Veroncal McClurkin encouraged students, “Don’t wait until graduation to start exploring your career paths. Alumni are available to guide you and mentor you.”