Central Valley Dugoni School of Dentistry Student Receives Scholarship from EMC Health Foundation
A first-year dental student at University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently received a life-changing $360,000 full-tuition scholarship from the EMC Health Foundation to fund her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program.
Jaskirth Pamma, who is from Atwater in Merced County, Calif., received the scholarship grant and started her studies in July at the dental school, which is based in San Francisco. In exchange, upon graduation, she will spend four years practicing dentistry in the Central Valley to serve the health needs of local residents, particularly the uninsured, Medi-Cal and Medicare patients.
“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the EMC Health Foundation scholarship,” said Pamma. “This rare opportunity to receive recognition of my worthiness and hard work and commitment to providing equitable health care empowers me to achieve a lifelong dream. I’m excited to begin my journey and serve my community in the Central Valley.”
Central Valley residents will benefit from this grant, which will ultimately bring Pamma to provide dental care to low-income residents in Merced and Stanislaus counties. Oral disease is prevalent in the region. There is a severe shortage of dental practitioners in Merced County, which limits access to necessary preventative and other dental services in the area.
In Merced County, according to a December 2018 report issued by the Merced County Department of Public Health, 25% of kindergarteners screened in the county in 2017 had tooth decay, 28.8% of adults reported having a cavity that needed filling, and nearly 42% of adults reported they had lost one to five teeth.
The picture is similar in Stanislaus County. In a report issued by Stanislaus County Health Services Agency — Public Health Division in 2018, 24% of kindergarteners screened in the county in 2017 showed evidence of untreated or previous dental decay, 29% of adults reported having a cavity that needed filling, and nearly 36% of adults reported they had lost one to five teeth.
Scholarship funds from this grant will provide rigorous academic and experiential learning opportunities to Pamma and other dental students, while also addressing the needs of this population and lowering the barrier to access for uninsured and low-income patients.
“We are thrilled to partner with the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to create this scholarship opportunity. It is the first step in helping ensure that every citizen in Northern Merced County has access to quality and affordable dental care,” said Jeffrey Lewis, President and CEO of the EMC Health Foundation.
The EMC Health Foundation was created to promote and expand care (healthcare, mental health and spiritual health) for people living southern Stanislaus and northern Merced Counties.
“This is a life-changing scholarship that will have a real impact on the health of some of California’s most in-need communities,” said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry. “We thank the EMC Health Foundation for their partnership and strong support of Jazz Pamma, our school and the wider community.”
University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s premier dental schools and has served the Bay Area community since 1896. The Dugoni School of Dentistry is committed to excellence in student-centered education, patient care and research. The school’s clinics, located in San Francisco and Union City, offer quality, affordable dental services to children and adults throughout Northern California. For more information, visit dental.pacific.edu.