Saturday Academy Celebrates A Decade of Diversity Pipeline Programming

This fall, Saturday Academy will welcome its 10th cohort of participants to in-person activities after two years of remote programming. Saturday Academy is designed specifically to increase diversity in the health care professions, particularly dentistry. The program introduces underrepresented high school students to the profession of dentistry, while preparing them for the college application process. It was founded in 2012 by Dr. Lorel Burns and Dr. Cheryline Pezzullo — both second-year DDS students at the College at the time, and currently faculty members.

From an initial enrollment of 13 participants in 2013, the program grew to a high of 64 enrollees in 2021 and will enroll 60 participants in 2022. Over the years, a total of 16 Saturday Academy participants have become NYU students and alumni of the DDS and Dental Hygiene Programs, and a significant number of other participants have gone on to study dentistry and dental hygiene at other schools, including Boston University, UCLA, University of the Pacific, SUNY Farmingdale, and CUNY City Tech.

In March 2022, Drs. Burns and Pezzullo, in partnership with Dr. Rodrigo Lacruz, associate professor of molecular pathobiology, submitted a grant proposal to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, to create paid summer research opportunities for Saturday Academy alumni and other historically underrepresented and marginalized students interested in dentistry. They received an impact score of 20 on the application and are awaiting a funding decision.

NYU Dentistry congratulates Drs. Burns and Pezzullo on their success with Saturday Academy over the past 10 years and looks forward to the next decade of programming.