October 7, 2016
Fourth-year dental student Stephen Martin and second-year dental student Caius Coretchi were named the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry’s first-ever A.C.E. Scholars.
The A.C.E. Student Scholars Fund recognizes the Achievement, Commitment, and Empowerment of the College’s dental students. This fund helps alleviate student debt, helping students to make a commitment to continuing to provide care to the underserved after graduation. They may choose to do so in their practices, by working for a Federally Qualified Health Center, or by going on mission trips to provide dental care.
A.C.E. funds are awarded based on financial need and on students’ leadership and service, including serving the underserved.
Martin is President Emeritus of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA), which “has a mission to serve the underserved and educate communities about oral health,” he noted.
Under Martin’s leadership, the SNDA helped save the partnership between the University and CommunityHealth Chicago, the largest free clinic in Illinois. Martin, his fellow SNDA members, and members of the Hispanic Student Dental Association volunteer in this community clinic, and he called “serving those who couldn’t afford care elsewhere one of the most rewarding experiences of my dental career.”
He also led the SNDA in developing a new partnership with the UIC College of Medicine through the Young Doctors Club, where dental and medical students serve as health mentors for children in Lawndale, one of Chicago’s poorest communities.
“I am grateful to not only receive this, but to have the opportunity to complete an education that allows me to have a powerfully positive effect on people’s lives,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t trade that opportunity for anything.”
One of Caius Coretchi’s interests is oral cancer research, starting out before his D-1 year in the Summer Student Research Program in the laboratory of Dr. Srilata Bagchi, Professor, Oral Biology. He continues his research, conducting experiments to determine the effects of DNA-damaging drugs on HeLa cells, the oldest human cell line commonly used in research.
At the American Association for Dental Research annual meeting in Los Angeles, CA, in March 2016, Coretchi represented the College to a national audience when he presented on his research.
He also is an active member of the College’s Wound Healing Journal Club.
Coretchi also is committed to community service, having provided oral health education to homeless women and children at the Maria Shelter in Chicago’s Englewood community.
“I hope people may be more inclined to donate because of the heavy involvement that our College has with the underserved patient communities,” Coretchi said. “Donors may feel proud of their support of those like me. I plan not to disappoint them.”
“I do not come from money, nor do I have family that comes from money,” Martin said. “The A.C.E. is important to me not only because it is aid that I need, but because it is a reward for the hard work I have put in to improve the lives of others.”
Coretchi noted that he welcomed the support to buy study materials and a laptop to enhance his education.
The A.C.E. Student Scholars Fund provides “current-use scholarships,” explained Mark J. Valentino, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement. “Current-use scholarship gifts allow us to distribute every dollar raised to assist our students during the current academic year,” he said.
“It is important for alumni and other donors of the College to continue to support he A.C.E. Scholarship because it says if you work hard, serve your community, and never give up, you can be rewarded,” Martin said. “It also reminds a student that once they graduate and ‘make it,’ they should also give back and give more, so that they too can provide opportunities for others in need to flourish.”
Coretchi agreed. “It is important for these donations to be made so the College may continue its support of students like me who come from a disadvantaged background,” he said. “The A.C.E. helps overcome some financial obstacles which, unfortunately but realistically, do have an impact on education. I am looking forward to making donors proud of their contributions by striving for excellence in the classroom, research lab, and clinic—particularly in serving the needy.”
The A.C.E. can help attract additional top students to the College like Coretchi and Martin, said Dr. Darryl Pendleton, Associate Dean for Student and Diversity Affairs.
“We want the best and the brightest Illinois has to offer to not only stay in the state, but to come to UIC,” he said. “They add to the reputation, the tradition, the quality, and the legacy of UIC, and that benefits the patients and the public.”
Current-use scholarship gifts are not endowment funds that are usual for long-term support, but are funds immediately spent. This approach is useful for short-term needs. For the long term, the College also continues to welcome funding for endowed scholarships and faculty support.
To contribute to the A.C.E. Student Scholars Fund, contact Bruno Mancari at (312) 413-3554.
Photo: Caius Coretchi (left) and Stephen Martin (right). Photo by Lloyd DeGrane.