Cedar City, Utah —Gaining entrance to dental school is extremely difficult, and receiving a scholarship is nearly impossible. Yet this is exactly what Southern Utah University (SUU) student Dallin Duncan recently accomplished, as he was awarded the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) with the U.S. Army.
Duncan, originally from Monticello, graduated from SUU in May with a degree in human nutrition and plans to enroll in dental school at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) this fall. When asked about his experience at SUU, Duncan indicated, “The small class sizes allowed me to have personal interactions with my professors, and there were so many opportunities for extracurricular and service activities. SUU’s offerings helped make me a well-rounded student.”
As a student, Duncan received great support in pursuing dentistry through the Rural Health Scholars (RHS) program, where he was involved in Fluoride Swish and Camp Kesem. In addition, Duncan participated in a service trip to Costa Rica with the SUU Community Engagement Center.
The Army HPSP Scholarship is highly competitive and provides a full tuition benefit to graduate health programs, along with a generous monthly stipend. Scholars of this program are commissioned as officers and serve in the Army after graduation. Duncan indicates, “I can’t think of a better way for me to contribute my skills and abilities to this wonderful country. My motivation for applying was my desire to be a part of this greater good done by our service men and women.”
“Dallin’s journey into dentistry has been a joy to follow. I have full confidence that he will succeed in dental school, in the Army, and as a small town dentist in the future,” indicates Karen Ganss, assistant director of the SUU RHS program and Duncan’s pre-health advisor. Rural areas in particular tend to have a high need for dentists due to geographic isolation, lack of transportation, poverty rates, and provider shortages.
VCU’s School of Dentistry is located in Richmond, Virginia and is a four-year program emphasizing basic, clinical, and social sciences. In addition to HPSP, Duncan is receiving a $20,000 admissions scholarship from VCU. He will be a part of a class size of about 100 students from all over the country and will graduate with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Upon graduation, Duncan will serve in the Army as a dentist, and eventually hopes to return to rural Monticello and open his own practice. More information on VCU’s School of Dentistry can be found at dentistry.vcu.edu.
The Rural Health Scholars program is available at Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, Snow College, and Utah State University-Eastern in Price. Through a partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine, this program assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy, and other health professions programs. For more information about the Utah Center for Rural Health programs, contact Karen Ganss at 435-865-8660 or visit the SUU RHS website.
About Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University (1897) evolved from a teacher training institution to Utah’s designated masters university, offering over 140 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. With world class project based learning, unique undergraduate research opportunities, and a personalized learning environment (18:1) students lead projects mentored by professors. True to the University’s core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world.