CEDAR CITY — Gaining entrance to dental school is extremely difficult, and receiving a scholarship is nearly impossible. Yet this is exactly what Southern Utah University student Dallin Duncan recently accomplished, as he was awarded a scholarship from the Health Professions Scholarship Program with the U.S. Army.
Duncan, originally from Monticello, graduated from SUU in May with a degree in human nutrition. According to a press release from the university, he plans to enroll in dental school at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall. When asked about his experience at SUU, Duncan attributed his success to the small class sizes and extracurricular and service activities.
“SUU’s offerings helped make me a well-rounded student,” he said in the press release.
As a student, Duncan received great support in pursuing dentistry through the Rural Health Scholars program, where he was involved in Fluoride Swish and Camp Kesem.
In addition, Duncan participated in a service trip to Costa Rica with the SUU Community Engagement Center.
As to the financial help he will receive at VCU in the fall, the Army HPSP Scholarship is highly competitive, the press release stated, and provides a full tuition benefit to graduate health programs, along with a generous monthly stipend. Scholars of this program are commissioned as officers and serve in the Army after graduation.
“I can’t think of a better way for me to contribute my skills and abilities to this wonderful country,” Duncan said. “My motivation for applying was my desire to be a part of this greater good done by our service men and women.”
Karen Ganss, assistant director of the SUU Rural Health Scholars program and Duncan’s prehealth advisor, said in the press release that Duncan’s journey was “a joy to follow.”
“I have full confidence that he will succeed in dental school, in the Army, and as a small town dentist in the future,” she said, referring to Duncan’s stated plans of eventually returning to rural Monticello to open his own practice.
Rural areas in particular tend to have a high need for dentists due to geographic isolation, lack of transportation, poverty rates and provider shortages.
VCU’s School of Dentistry is located in Richmond, Virginia, and is a four-year program emphasizing basic, clinical and social sciences. In addition to HPSP, Duncan is receiving a $20,000 admissions scholarship from VCU. He will be a part of a class size of about 100 students from all over the country and will graduate with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.
Upon graduation, Duncan will serve in the Army as a dentist before hopefully returning to Monticello.
The Rural Health Scholars program is available at Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, Snow College and Utah State University-Eastern in Price. Through a partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine, this program assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy and other health professions programs.