Foundation grant recipients: Where are they now?

Aisha Amin, DMD, remains dedicated to community health

Since it was established in 2002, the CDA Foundation’s annual Student Loan Repayment Grant has helped 18 dentists offset a portion of their student loan debt while they pursue a career in public or community health. This semiregular series looks at the careers of past recipients of the grant.

Aisha Amin, DMD, was just beginning her career in community health when she received the CDA Foundation’s 2014 Student Loan Repayment Grant. The 2013 graduate of A.T. Still University, School of Health Management started practicing at Family HealthCare Network in the town of Woodlake in Tulare County and transferred in fall 2014 to the Visalia FHCN clinic, where she remains today, albeit with a new role and added responsibilities. Over the last several years she has advanced from a general dentist to the assistant dental director and is now the network’s dental director.

“The CDA Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant has supported my vision of working at a community health clinic and serving the public,” said Dr. Amin, whose work as dental director includes providing overall management and direction to dentists and departmental staff, planning and implementing new programs, working with fourth-year dental students from A.T. Still University through their rotations and launching a mobile unit in May to expand access to care.

The nonprofit Family HealthCare Network operates nine dental clinics that serve California’s San Joaquin Valley, with two more on track to open this year, Amin reports. The community-based organization also operates medical clinics for a combined 26 sites, 21 of which are federally qualified health centers.

“I work with a dedicated team that makes all of this possible,” Amin said. “It is a pleasure to be part of an actively growing FQHC to help increase access to care and reduce barriers.”

Finding joy and fulfillment

Amin was a child when she and her family were uprooted from their home in Karachi, Pakistan. By age 13, newly relocated in rural Ajax, Canada, she was not only working many hours per week to contribute to the household, but helping to raise her younger siblings. All the while she took classes to further develop her English language skills and eventually moved to Fairfield, Calif.

"I choose to work with an underserved faction of society because I can wholeheartedly identify myself with the patient population," said Amin back in 2014 upon receiving the Foundation grant. She called it her responsibility to see patients “not only improve their dental health but also their overall lifestyle."

Speaking recently about her continued work in community health, Amin said, “I come from a disadvantaged family background, and to be able to serve people in need brings me joy and sense of fulfillment.”

Amin also served three years as secretary/treasurer in the Tulare Kings Dental Society and is now the society’s president-elect.

“The society makes great strides in increasing dental awareness in the community and bringing in well-known speakers for continuing education for dentists,” Amin said.

She added: “I have had the pleasure to grow my family with my supportive husband, Rahaeel Mann. We have two beautiful children … Zayn, who will soon to be 4 years old, and Zia, who is 2 1/2 years old. We find Visalia to be a great place for our children to grow and flourish.”

Grant applications accepted through July 31

The goal of the Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant program is to immediately reduce barriers to oral health care access and services in targeted underserved communities and populations. The program also seeks to establish an ongoing mechanism to provide dental professionals an opportunity to reduce their financial burden while working in these communities.

The award provides up to $35,000 per year and a maximum of $105,000 over three years to be applied toward repaying the dentists’ educational loan. In exchange, the grant recipient makes a three-year commitment to provide care for the underserved. The selected runner-up will receive the Webb Family Grant, named for Russell Webb, DDS, and Kathi Webb, which provides an award of up to $5,000 toward the recipient’s educational loan. Grant applications will be accepted through July 31.

“Thank you to all donors who continue to contribute to the grant and support passionate dentists in serving communities in need,” Amin said. “I am humbled and grateful to have received this award that has allowed me to follow my heart in serving the underserved community.”

Apply for the grant and find application guidelines.

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This summer, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy great meals and a mix of activities among friends and peers in three distinct landscapes — all while helping to support the CDA Foundation's two flagship programs: CDA Cares, the volunteer-run dental clinic that provides dental services at no charge to Californians, and the Student Loan Repayment Grant. Read on for a brief description of each event and details on how to save your spot.

The CDA Foundation has published its annual report highlighting the health, hope and happiness provided to individuals in 2017 through ongoing Foundation programs, including two student loan repayment grants, the Dental Materials and Supplies Grant and CDA Cares — the volunteer-run dental clinic held twice annually in communities throughout California.

Applications are being accepted as of May 1 for the CDA Foundation’s 2018 Student Loan Repayment Grant. Given annually since 2002, the grant program helps recent dental school graduates offset the financial burden of student loan debt while they pursue careers in public or community health. The award provides up to $35,000 per year and a maximum of $105,000 over three years to be applied toward repaying the dentists’ educational loan.