ODA Foundation reaches giving milestone

ODA Foundation awarded 21 scholarships to dental students

This year, the ODA Foundation awarded 21 scholarships to dental students, one scholarship to a student going through a Community Dental Health Coordinator program, and two scholarships to EFDA students for a total of $60,000.

The ODA Foundation has reached a giving milestone of awarding $1 million in grants and scholarships since its inception.

“The leaders who had the foresight to start the ODA Foundation, Kaplan, Claypool, Mercer, Snelson, et. al., would have been proud, and perhaps a little surprised, that since its inception, over $1 million dollars in grants and scholarships has been awarded,” said Dr. Kim Gardner, chair of the ODA Foundation Board of Trustees. “What a milestone! As we continue in the work, I am sure the trustees will have as a goal to reach the $2 million dollar mark in an even shorter time period. Our future colleagues and the underserved would appreciate that.”

Since 1995, the Foundation has awarded 322 scholarships for a total of more than $600,000 and 82 grants for over $400,000.

This year, the ODA Foundation awarded 21 scholarships to dental students, one scholarship to a student going through a Community Dental Health Coordinator program, and two scholarships to EFDA students for a total of $60,000.

The Foundation has also offered five grants to access to care programs in Ohio and one fundraising match grant to the John Harris Dental Museum in Ohio in addition to a grant awarded earlier in the year to the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers for a blood pressure initiative. The Ohio Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon’s Fund within the ODA Foundation awarded grants to OMS residency programs at Case Western Reserve University, the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University. Watch future issues of the “ODA Today” for profiles on each of the grant recipients.

“This year the scholarship review committee received applications from 40 dental students and 15 grant requests from a variety of organizations. Last year we had one grant request!” Gardner said. “Although we would have loved to provide funding for each of these worthy applicants, the committee made the difficult choices of funding those who scored highest in our evaluation process. As a result, 20 dental students received scholarships and five access to care organizations were chosen for grants. The generosity of our donors provides the funds to allow us to give these gifts and it is to them that we are most appreciative.”

As part of this year’s scholarships, several special scholarships were awarded in honor of past leaders and the Foundation opened a scholarship opportunity for CDHC students.

Forward Ever Scholarship

The ODA Foundation awarded this year’s Forward Ever Scholarship to Matt Kotapish, a D4 at the OSU College of Dentistry. The scholarship was created in memory of ODA past president Dr. Ralph E. “Jim” Snelson, who always had a focus on creating a positive future for the profession and organized dentistry. The scholarship is awarded annually to one dental student who exemplifies leadership in organized dentistry.

“Our first Forward Ever Scholarship, awarded to OSU dental student Matt Kotapish, and given in memory of Trustee Emeritus Dr. Jim Snelson, was truly well deserved,” Gardner said. “The committee was impressed by this young man’s dedication to not only becoming a member of organized dentistry, but working in the future to get other dentists to join as well. Excitement and love for his profession was what Jim Snelson was all about. Mr. Kotapish has that same enthusiasm and respect for his profession.”

Kotapish has served the OSU ASDA chapter in a variety of capacities including as president-elect, president and past-president, and he encourages the involvement of his classmates in organized dentistry.

“Throughout my life and especially in dental school, I have tried to make every penny count,” Kotapish said. “I can’t begin to tell the Foundation how much scholarships like this lessen the massive financial burden associated with dental school. Between boards, residency applications and the obvious costs of tuition, this scholarship has really helped with expenses this semester. I look forward to being a life-long member and leader in organized dentistry. I look forward to the day when I can give back and pay it forward to the next generation of students. Thanks so much again for taking the time to make all of this possible and considering me worthy for the first Forward Ever Scholarship. I hope to make Dr. Snelson proud.”

Darryl Dever Advocacy Scholarship

The ODA Foundation awarded this year’s Darryl Dever Advocacy Scholarship to Spencer Tepe, a D4 at the OSU College of Dentistry. The scholarship was created in honor of the ODA’s long-time lobbyist and is awarded annually to one dental student who shows the highest commitment to advocacy for dentistry.

“The committee made this selection based on the fact that Mr. Tepe has made numerous efforts while a dental student to advocate for his profession both statewide and nationally,” Gardner said. “For many years, ODPAC has made it a point to involve students from our dental schools in the ODA Day at the Statehouse. This endeavor has had the effect of ingraining in our students the importance of standing up for one’s patients and profession. Darryl Dever stood up for our profession on many occasions because he believed in what we were trying to do and that it was in the best interest of the public as well. He was admired and respected by his peers and the Ohio Dental Association. Mr. Tepe has made great strides, we wish him well in the future.”

Tepe said he considers advocating on behalf of dentistry a personal passion. He is currently serving as the ASDA District 6 and 7 legislative coordinator and the student liaison to ODPAC. He has been involved in many different advocacy initiatives, including spearheading the first ever ASDA hosted political fundraiser.

“Advocacy has taught me how to serve an active role in democracy and challenges me to better myself as a citizen of Ohio and the United States. My involvements have only confirmed my passion for dentistry and my desire to serve my community to the best of my ability,” Tepe said. “I would like to extend a sincere thank you for all of your efforts in making available the first annual Darryl Dever Advocacy Scholarship. The monies awarded have directly replaced federal loans, making my education more affordable. It has been a pleasure working alongside the ODA and individuals such as Darryl in the effort to preserve the wellbeing of dentistry. I look forward to my years ahead and my continued involvement in organized dentistry.”

Past Presidents Scholarships

In 2016, the ODA Foundation began awarding one-time scholarships in honor of past presidents who made a special donation of $1,000 or more to the Foundation. The 2016 Past President Scholarships honored special donors who served as ODA president during the 1970s and 1980s.

This year’s Past President Scholarship recipients are:

  • Rebecca Bartlett (OSU), in honor of Dr. Bernard Snyder, who served as ODA president in 1977
  • David Gorenz (OSU), in honor of Dr. Jack Gottschalk, who served as ODA president in 1980
  • Britini Skoda (CWRU), in honor of Dr. Edward White who served as ODA president in 1984
  • Josetta DeFrancisco (CWRU), in honor of Dr. James Fanno, who served as ODA president in 1989

“Meeting Ms. Josetta DeFrancisco, a Case fourth year dental student, was really fun,” Fanno said. “She is bright, energetic, committed and focused. I was so excited that she was the recipient of the 2016 ODA Foundation Past Presidents Scholarship awarded this year in my honor. Spending time with her and discussing her future plans reaffirmed my confidence that the future of our profession is in very good hands. As a 50 year alumnus of the Case School of Dental Medicine, I could not have been more excited or more proud. Ms. DeFrancisco understands the importance of her leadership responsibilities so that together we can continue to move our beloved profession forward another 50 years.”

Dr. James F. Mercer Leadership Scholarship

The ODA Foundation Mercer Fund awarded the Dr. James F. Mercer Leadership Scholarship to Cody Strahler, a D4 at the OSU College of Dentistry. Strahler has served in many student elected leadership positions and ranks in the top five of his class in dental school. He is also involved in many community service projects.

“I feel honored to be recognized for my leadership through the Dr. James F. Mercer Leadership Scholarship. Dr. Mercer left beyond a tremendous legacy through his leadership efforts in the community as well as in organized dentistry. Being recognized in Dr. Mercer’s name gives me great pride in my efforts and achievements as a leader, and I hope to continue to grow, one day leaving behind my own legacy,” Strahler said. “I have a true passion for dentistry and will focus much of my efforts on improving as a practitioner and enhancing the field of dentistry. Involvement in organized dentistry, promoting public health programs, and continuing to improve my skills as a practitioner are all areas in which I will utilize my leadership abilities.”

Community Dental Health Coordinator Scholarship

The ODA Foundation awarded Tiffaney Hamm, program coordinator and dental assistant at the Delta Dental Center at Oyler School, an FQHC dental center of the City of Cincinnati Health Department, a scholarship for Community Dental Health Coordinator training. She is working toward earning a certificate in Community Dental Health Coordination (CDHC) from Rio Salado College via distance learning.

The ADA created the CDHC as a new member of the dental team who performs clinical preventive services (such as fluoride treatments), provides oral health education and reaches out to the community. The goal of the CDHC is to help populations who are at risk for dental disease navigate the health care system.

“To my knowledge, the ODA Foundation is one of the first groups to provide a full tuition scholarship to a CDHC student,” Gardner said. “The ODAF Board felt this was an important first step in showing how the profession values optimum dental care to the underserved.”

Hamm’s job currently includes coordinating all facets of the clinic at Oyler School as well as educating patients on oral health and helping them find dental resources in the community. She said the aspects of her job that are similar to a Community Dental Health Coordinator are the parts she is most passionate about.

“I am humbled as being chosen to be the first recipient, and I promise to represent the ODA Foundation with pride and excellence in my course work,” she said. “I want to be that piece that can help align all of the current and existing dental programs. I hope to be there for our community to provide options that are readily available with the population of patients that just doesn’t yet have the access or the knowledge of how to find them. I want to align with the families and help them face any barriers to getting the services needed.”