Hear from our Cranberry Scholarship Recipients! Summer 2023

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Global Dental Relief clinics provide a unique opportunity for pre-dental and pre-dental hygiene students to gain hands-on experience in the field of dentistry. With the help of CranberryUSA, a generous dental supply company, GDR offers partial scholarships for pre-dental and pre-dental hygiene students who have both a passion and enthusiasm for bringing oral health education and dental care to children around the world.

Since 2017, CranberryUSA has partnered with Global Dental Relief to send students to five countries worldwide – bringing much needed dental care to children across the globe!

This summer, three pre-dental students worked in GDR’s Mexico and Guatemala clinics. While volunteering they were able to work alongside licensed dentists and hygienists and gain hands-on experience in GDR’s mobile dental clinics. Raul Calma-Deal and Gillian Beckman had the opportunity to work in San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala, and Laurin Williams in Akumal, Mexico, GDR’s newest clinic location.

Below is a summary of their time in the field. We hope you enjoy reading and consider sharing this opportunity with someone you know who may be interested in getting involved as a student volunteer in a dental clinic setting! 

What was your favorite part about volunteering with GDR?

“My favorite part about volunteering with Global Dental Relief was how easy it was to connect and bond with the fellow volunteers on this trip. We quickly got to know one another and became a close team, which translated into us having great communication and working together very efficiently in the clinic.” – Laurin Williams

“My favorite part about volunteering with Global Dental Relief was the people. The individuals that I volunteered with were each so unique and genuine and made it such a fun experience. Everyone was passionate about the mission of helping kids and excited to be there volunteering their time.” – Gillian Beckman

“The true importance of this trip lay in the human connections. Bonding with the children, fellow pre-dental students and passionate dental professionals heightened my dedication to community outreach and pushed my drive for dental accessibility. The camaraderie among like-minded individuals fueled our passion to expand access to dental care worldwide. It was through these connections that I found inspiration, support, and a network of compassionate individuals dedicated to making a difference.”-  Raul Calma-Deal

How did this opportunity impact your decision to pursue a career in dentistry? 

“Working as an assistant on this trip really solidified my desire to pursue a career in dentistry. While I fell in love with dentistry through my work as an assistant here in the United States, getting to see dentists in action overseas gave me the intense desire to be in exactly their position. I want to learn the skills that will allow me to help treat these children and save as many of their precious teeth as possible. I hope to continue to volunteer with GDR and return as a dental student, as well as after dental school. This was such an impactful trip and it has shown me how I can impact people’s lives personally through dentistry.” – Gillian Beckman

“This opportunity strengthened my passion for dentistry by showing me the immense difference that visiting a dentist can have, especially for those who don’t often get the chance to. I was often moved by how drastically a patient’s demeanor would change from when they arrived in discomfort due to a decayed tooth to when they departed after treatment in much better spirits. I was also influenced by the experience of meeting several experienced dentists on the trip who shared great advice as well as stories from their own personal experiences of particularly impactful patient encounters. After this experience I can say with confidence that I have chosen the right career for myself in deciding to become a dentist.”  – Laurin Williams

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If you could say anything to the next Cranberry Scholar, what would it be?

“I would highly recommend volunteering with GDR to anyone, especially young adults who may be interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. My first trip with GDR in 2021 gave me that final push I needed to start building my dental school application, and now just two years later I will be starting dental school this fall.” – Laurin Williams

“The Cranberry Scholarship, graciously given by GDR and Cranberry, opened the doors to a life-altering experience. From the bustling clinic environment to the deep connections formed with patients and like-minded individuals, this journey has forever shaped my perspective on dentistry. I urge aspiring dental professionals to seize the opportunity to travel with Cranberry Dental and Global Dental Relief, as it provides not only a platform to connect with others but also the chance to make dental care accessible worldwide. By uniting together, we are on a quest to spread smiles and improve oral health on a global scale.” – Raul Calma-Deal

“Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything about dentistry prior to going on a trip with GDR – you will meet amazing mentors who will guide you along every step of the way, and you get into the swing of clinic very quickly once it starts. “– Laurin Williams

“Soak in as much of this experience as you can!! Although you may not realize it while you are there, this trip will change you in ways you may not even have words to describe. It is such a joy and a privilege that these kids trust you to take care of them and they make as big of an impact on you as you make on them!” – Gillian Beckman

We are now accepting applications for 2024 Cranberry Scholarships – Click here to apply!

To chat with someone about volunteering abroad in one of GDR’s seven locations, contact us today!