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November 27, 2012
By Cynthia Pratte
This fall marks a lot of firsts for Milan Montero. The University of Nevada, Reno freshman is one of the first residents of the University's new Living Learning Community, she is also living away from her tight-knit Las Vegas family for the first time. Montero's enrollment here at Nevada also sets an important precedent for the University's rapidly evolving College of Science.
Montero is the first student accepted into a new accelerated BS-DMD program where she will earn a combined Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine in seven years instead of the traditional eight, potentially launching her career as a dentist before her 24th birthday and a year ahead of schedule.
Montero, a 2012 Presidential Scholar, chose to come to the University of Nevada, Reno precisely because of the new program and the financial incentives afforded her by her home state via scholarship assistance. "I was so happy to learn of this new opportunity because it truly was the caliber program I wanted and I could stay in state," Montero said. "My parents are happy too; though I was accepted to a number of accelerated BS-DMD programs around the country, the University of Nevada, Reno is the best of both worlds- I'm still relatively close to home while attending a top tier institution."
"I became interested in Dentistry through my aunts," Montero said, "They are dentists and speak highly of their work- the stability, professionalism, opportunities and the pay. I decided that I'd like to be a dentist." Almost eight weeks into her first semester, Montero is on her way to becoming just that and she is setting the standard for the quality of students the program seeks to attract as she goes.
Mentor to the program and the University's president of the Pre-Dental Society, Griffin Park, says the program will continue to recruit additional high achieving, motivated, and mature University freshman applicants to the program. He explains that these pre-dentistry students will have the added advantage of the stewardship of upperclassmen and industry mentors. "It's basically once they're here, the door is wide open for their success, we help roll out a red carpet of resources, all they have to do is walk through that door and do good work," says Park.
The BS-DMD program is one of 3 accelerated programs offered by the University's College of Science in partnership with UNLV's School of Dental Medicine. The program's inception here at Nevada began when Dr. David White, an esteemed young alum of the University was attending an awards banquet partially in his honor. A cocktail hour conversation with now President, Marc Johnson and later, College of Science Dean Jeff Thompson turned into a sixteen month push for the program to be actualized at Nevada.
White says, "I am thrilled with this program's inception here in Nevada, it allows us to reach down into high school and even middle school to find and retain the best and the brightest in our home state instead of losing our talent to another state."
"I concur with Dr. White that this program will enable us to retain our best and brightest high school students in Nevada," said Dr. Christine Ancajas, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at UNLV School of Dental Medicine. "Students in this program will have the advantage of being involved in the dental school activities even before matriculating. This enables them to see and experience what lies ahead of them in the four years and get them excited about the dental profession."
Students such as Montero who are admitted to the program will complete the first three years of the required undergraduate Biology curriculum at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to BS-DMD, there is the BS-MD program in partnership with the School of Medicine and BS-MBA, launching Fall 2013, in partnership with the University's College of Business. These accelerated programs represent a commitment to recruiting the state's top students and preparing them for rewarding careers.
The BS-DMD accelerated program is offered jointly by the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno and the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Students admitted to the program will complete the first three years of the required undergraduate Biology curriculum at the University of Nevada, Reno. Students are awarded the BS degree with a major in Biology after successful completion of the first year of dental school and are then awarded the DMD degree after successful completion of all dental school requirements.