CDA Foundation announces awards, scholarships

The CDA Foundation has announced the recipients of several 2015 awards and educational scholarships.

The CDA Foundation offers financial support for oral health programs and dental education statewide. In this way, funding reaches local communities where it's needed most. Two ways the CDA Foundation gives are through community grants and educational scholarships. Over the years, these awards have enabled countless people to receive more than $106 million in care.

Below are the 2015 recipients of the Student Loan Repayment Grant, Webb Family Grant, Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award, Bettie Underwood RDAEF-2 Scholarship and CDA Foundation Humanitarian Award.

Student Loan Repayment Grant — Sonia Relingo, DDS

Sonia Relingo, DDS, graduated from Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington, D.C., in 2013, and followed with a two-year general practice residency at Community Regional Medical Center. She currently is licensed to practice in California and employed at United Health Center in Mendota (Fresno County), providing 40 hours a week of hands-on clinical services. Born and raised in Orosi, Calif., she grew up in the second poorest county in California and attended a high school with an academic performance index of 1. Despite these challenges, she graduated valedictorian of her high school class and went on to attend college at UC Berkeley where she became a first-generation graduate. When given the chance, she would like to return to her hometown to practice dentistry.

Every year, the CDA Foundation is able to award one new dentist with the Student Loan Repayment Grant to help repay his or her educational loan — up to $105,000 over three years in exchange for a commitment to care for the underserved.

Webb Family Grant — Osvaldo Amezcua, DDS

Osvaldo Amezcua, DDS, was born in Mexico, in a poor farming village with limited access to educational opportunities. His family moved to the United States when he was 4 years old. Growing up in Salinas was challenging, as the city is known for its gangs and violence. His parents did not speak English. Amezcua continued to work hard and was determined to graduate from high school and attend college. He attended Santa Clara University and became the first in his family to attend a four-year university. He then attended the UCSF School of Dentistry and was part of a mission trip to serve the people of Jamaica. He participated in Give Kids A Smile Day at UCSF and served as coordinator of the UCSF Community Dental Clinic. His future career goal is to work in a community-based clinic in Salinas to provide care to the underserved in the community where he grew up.

Named for Russell Webb, DDS, and Kathi Webb, the generous donors who created this endowment fund, the Webb Family Grant provides an annual award of up to $5,000 toward educational expenses for an eligible individual who has applied to, meets all the criteria of, and is selected as runner-up for the CDA Foundation Student Loan Repayment Grant.

Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award — Santosh Sundaresan, DDS

Santosh Sundaresan, DDS, is the section chair of community health programs at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. There, he oversees all the dental clinics that are community based where the students rotate and provide dentistry. He is also the Dental Humanitarian Outreach Project faculty advisor for a group of students and faculty that travels and provides dental care to underserved populations. Further, he is director of the USC Mobile Clinic, which travels with four 48-foot trailers and one mobile home between Los Angeles, Kern and San Diego counties, providing comprehensive dental care to children who do not have access to dental care. Sundaresan has received teaching awards and most recently was selected as the recipient of the USC Best Clinical Faculty Award in 2014. He takes pride in teaching with compassion, demonstrating integrity and ethics of the profession and, most important, tries to reinforce the student's community responsibility.

In recognition of Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni's vast accomplishments in dental education and organized dentistry, this award acknowledges and supports individual faculty for their exceptional leadership, innovation, collaboration, compassion, philanthropic spirit and integrity in dental education.

CDA Foundation Humanitarian Award — Andrew Soderstrom, DDS

Andrew Soderstrom, DDS, is a pediatric dentist in Modesto who served as CDA president in 2011. Throughout his career, Soderstrom has continuously served the dental needs of children, regardless of their family's economic status, helping improve the quality of care of infants, children and patients with special medical and developmental needs, as well as volunteer teaching at UCSF Dental School and at Oakland Children's Hospital. His concern for the public's dental health includes a long-fought battle to fluoridate community water in Modesto, his hometown. Locally, he has worked as a member of the Modesto Rotary and with the Salvation Army helping the homeless.

While CDA president, he visited Oregon's first Mission of Mercy event, brought the concept back to his fellow leaders and began a long journey in CDA's commitment to help the underserved. Through his leadership, funds were raised, volunteers recruited and CDA Cares was developed with the first clinic held in Modesto in 2012. Since that time, Soderstrom has led in the creation of the CDA Cares Management Committee where clinic philosophy is developed, locations are evaluated and all events are managed. He has served as chair of that committee since its inception.

Soderstrom has accomplished all of this while maintaining a pediatric dental practice in Modesto.

The CDA Foundation Humanitarian Award recognizes California dentists who have distinguished themselves through a lifetime of outstanding, unselfish leadership and contributions to fellow human beings in the field of dentistry.

Bettie Underwood RDAEF-2 Scholarship — Jessica Giron

Jessica Giron is a student at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry's RDAEF-2 program. She works at Community Health Clinic Ole in her hometown of Napa. She began working as a sterilization technician and later transitioned into dental assisting. Now, she is a registered dental assistant and has enrolled in a program to train as an RDAEF-2 to expand her role in the dental clinic.

The CDA Foundation has awarded select students enrolled in a California RDAEF-2 program with a scholarship up to $5,000 toward educational expenses in exchange for a commitment to work in a California community clinic or other public health setting for one year directly after obtaining an RDAEF-2 license.

For more information on the CDA Foundation or its awards and scholarships, visit cdafoundation.org.

Updated: 10/08/15

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