NYU Dentistry’s Saturday Academy Honored with INSIGHT Into Diversity’s 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award
NYU College of Dentistry’s Saturday Academy has been named a recipient of the 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Saturday Academy will be featured, along with 78 other recipients, in the September 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
The mission of Saturday Academy is to increase diversity in the health care professions, especially dentistry, by introducing underrepresented high school students to the dental profession while simultaneously preparing them for the college application process. Established in 2012 by Dr. Lorel Burns and Dr. Cheryline Pezzullo — at the time, both second-year students at the College — the preparatory program meets biweekly on Saturdays over seven sessions. To date, the program has introduced 227 high school students to the field of dentistry.
Local high schools and community partnerships assist in recruiting students, who take part in hands-on, pre-clinical dental activities, such as creating molds of bite impressions and filling cavities in tooth models. Additional benefits of the program include mentorship from dental student volunteers and assistance with résumés, personal statements, mock interviews, and applying for financial aid. The program continued during the COVID-19 pandemic by adapting to a virtual format.
According to INSIGHT Into Diversity, the award winners play a role in diversifying some of the nation’s fastest-growing and most in-demand career fields, and while each program is unique, they share the common purpose of encouraging anyone traditionally underrepresented in STEM to expand their knowledge and pursue their dreams in these pivotal disciplines.
“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”