Reina Ransom has always looked to play an active role in creating an inclusive and engaging community at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry.
“I’ve always been a person who wants to be an active member of my community,” said Ransom, a third-year dental student. “By being involved, you’ll be able to put into the world as much as you’re getting out of it.”
That passion led her to join the Adams School of Dentistry’s Student National Dental Association chapter, which hosts various initiatives at the school.
As the chapter’s recruiting committee chair, Ransom has hosted post-interview luncheons for potential students interested in the Adams School of Dentistry, offering them a chance to network with current dental students. She’s also served as the education committee chair, organizing networking meetings with practitioners to chat with current students about career opportunities and life after graduation.
Ransom has even worked in the group’s outreach efforts, serving as a coordinator at the chapter’s CAARE Clinic in Durham, where students provide free oral health services such as extractions, fillings and dentures for uninsured, underinsured and low-income populations in Durham and the surrounding areas.
This coming fall, she’ll be taking her efforts to a national level as the president of the SNDA for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the role, she will lead the organization’s country-wide efforts to support minority dental students.
“SNDA is really involved in increasing the enrollment of African American students and other underrepresented minorities into dental school, as well as enhancing the experience of those students while they are in dental school,” said Ransom.
Ransom was elected to the position at the organization’s national convention last summer, and she’s currently completing her term as the president-elect, which involves shadowing the current president, coordinating events and planning their largest annual event, the SNDA National Convention.
“We work really hard throughout the year to put on this national conference. There aren’t many Black dental students throughout the country, so to get together under one roof and discuss similar successes and struggles we’ve had throughout the year is a great opportunity,” she said. “It’s also nice to see the fourth-year dental students’ rite of passage ceremonies and be officially inducted into the National Dental Association.”
Beyond the convention planning, Ransom has been helping create new national programs for SNDA. She is working with the other members of the national executive board to connect students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities with current dental students in order to help increase the enrollment of Black students in dental schools.
As the president, she plans to create national study clubs, coordinate a lecture series that highlights Black faculty members and increase the overall benefits of membership.
“I’m looking forward to rolling out my new initiatives next year,” she said.
Before coming to Carolina for dental school, Ransom was an undergraduate student at Hampton University and initially learned about SNDA after attending Carolina’s Medical Education Development Program, a summer educational experience for undergraduates interested in medical or dental school.
“The SNDA members who were serving as TAs of the program were awesome,” she said. “UNC has an extremely strong chapter nationally, and I was in awe of SNDA after meeting them. When I got involved at SNDA my first year of dental school, I could see myself doing more because I would love to work with all of these organizations and have an impact nationally and really help dental students.”
Being involved in SNDA now as a dental student reinforces Ransom’s career goals.
“My real goal in dentistry is to be a dental educator,” she said. “I like academics and the administrative side of programs to get people moving on their career progress. I think that’s the real way of helping people. Educating people can really change their lives. I thought being involved in SNDA on a national level would help me to learn some of those skills of how to organize and create programs, initiate them and roll them out.”
Ransom is excited for her new position with SNDA this summer and to create change at a national level. She believes others helped her get to where she is today, and she wants to extend that same service to someone else.
“I’ve always had the phrase ‘each one, teach one’ in the back of my head,” she said. “’Each one, teach one’ means to teach someone else how you ended up where you are and how you had your success. Teach them to do the same things that you’re able to do and reach back.”