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IMG_0848Congratulations to ThanksUSA alumni Shandiin Sam on her December graduation! Since 2010, Shandiin was awarded ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9,000. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University.

Shandiin had an exciting senior year at ASU, studying abroad in France and volunteering with the student-led health and development organization, Global Brigades.

As a member of ASU’s Medical & Dental Brigade, Shandiin travelled to Honduras where she assisted with patient triage, dispensing vitamins, and teaching children how to brush their teeth.

Shandiin reports that although the dental team spent about six hours each day treating patients, they just didn’t have enough time to see everyone. “As we would start to pack everything and have to cut-off triage, the dentist would try to get two or three more patients in before packing up.”

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Because of diet and lack of basic dental hygiene supplies like toothbrushes and toothpaste, the majority of patients were seen for tooth decay. In the United States, dentists typically attempt to save a tooth with a filling or cap. Shandiin explained that the majority of patients seen by Global Brigades volunteers preferred extraction and dentures because long-term care would be less costly and easier to maintain.

Shandiin admits that her time in Honduras was exhausting, but well worth the effort. Although she admits, “I could never be a dentist after shadowing him (the volunteer Global Brigades dentist). The human mouth seems more gruesome to me than a broken bone or surgery, but it was still a rewarding experience!”

With plans to attend medical school and travel the globe helping others, Shandiin will likely have a lifetime of rewarding experiences. She is currently seeking employment as a medical technologist while she prepares for the MCAT.

We love to hear from ThanksUSA Alumni and share updates like this! Current and past ThanksUSA scholarship recipients are encouraged to join the ThanksUSA Alumni and Friends Facebook page to connect with fellow scholars and the ThanksUSA team.

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