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Awards & Honors: service rounds

Terry Tanaka Service Award finalist

Other TAMHSC-BCD students have been nominated for the Terry Tanaka Service Award in the past, but Megan Miller, D4, was the college's first finalist. She is pictured here (far right) on a mission trip to Belize. Also pictured (sitting, far left) is Wade Barker, D3.

Photos courtesy Megan Miller

Miller represents TAMHSC-BCD as college's first Terry Tanaka Service Award finalist

Megan Miller
Miller (back) has had some interesting memories from years of
service trips, such as sleeping in hammocks in this old church in
Crique Sarco, Belize. Barker also is pictured (front).

Megan Miller is no stranger to service projects. It should come as no surprise that the D4 — devoted to community dentistry since 2007, even before enrolling at the college — was nominated as Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry’s candidate for the 2011 Terry Tanaka Service Award last spring.

After Miller was selected as the dental school’s nominee — effectively putting her in an elite pool composed of one student from each of the nation’s dental schools — she achieved a TAMHSC-BCD first. Miller became the first finalist for the award ever from the Dallas dental school. Despite the fact that another dental student eventually claimed the Academy of Dentistry International honor, the mere fact that Miller was commended as a finalist is a testament to her spirit of service.

“I am honored to have been nominated to represent Baylor College of Dentistry and to have been selected as a finalist,” says Miller. “I initially became involved with community dentistry as a predental student and discovered how rewarding it is to have a skill that enables you to positively change someone's life and oral health in one appointment.

“It is a blessing to have the ability and time to serve those in our community and in developing countries who desperately need our expertise.”

In her spare time, Miller travels to the far reaches of the state through Texas Mission of Mercy, a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care, health care and prescriptions to the uninsured and underinsured. Just this August, Miller, a small band of TAMHSC-BCD student volunteers and a couple adjunct faculty members traveled to Texarkana, Texas, where they spent a day holed up in a high school gymnasium along with 30 dentists and many volunteers to perform extractions, restorations and cleanings for more than 530 patients.

Miller’s work even transcends national borders, with dental missions to Belize the last four years.

Back in the metroplex, Miller served as community service chair for the college’s Hispanic Student Dental Association chapter during the 2009-2010 school year, helping plan the educational program for the North Texas professional chapter’s contribution to the Give Kids a Smile national initiative. It was this work that earned Miller a service award recommendation letter from Dr. Carlos Nurko, immediate past president of the North Texas Hispanic Dental Association.

Nurko, also a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, summed it up best in the Academy of Dentistry International letter when he described Miller as “energetic, a team player and very interested in children’s oral health at the community level. She is already an asset to the dental profession."