USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Smile in the Spotlight: Susanna Grimm

Susanna Grimm


Smiles in the Spotlight” is a column that celebrates a different member of the USC School of Dentistry community each month. If you’d like to nominate a student, faculty member or staff member to be featured as a Smile in the Spotlight, contact Beth Dunham at or (213) 740-4279.

Second-year student Susanna Grimm is already a veteran when it comes to contributing her talents to the USC School of Dentistry community.  She’s been class secretary, put on the School’s winter formal, and organized the class breakfast.

Then she decided to go global.  In early 2008, her first year of dental school, Grimm traveled to Honduras to assist dentists working in the Global Dental Brigades, an international student-led international relief organization.  Grimm returned with the decision to share the reward of her humanitarian experiences with other students by organizing a new club: the USC Dental Humanitarian Club.

“She absolutely fell in love with it,” said Colin Loewen, a fellow student member of the Club.

Her own words tell the story. “It revealed what a true test of skills, ingenuity, and patience this one-week mission was for a dentist.  My greatest hope is that the USC Dental Brigades can grow and flourish with the help of the dental faculty and students,” Grimm wrote after her first trip.

With the help of Academic advisors Dr. Eugene Sekiguchi and Neal Nathenson, Grimm won approval for the club in August 2008 and for a second trip to Honduras.  Four months later, Grimm and 13 other students in the Humanitarian Club traveled to Honduras.  There, they braved cold water, a generator for power, and long bus rides to help provide villagers with restorations, sealants, and other procedures.  Grimm She also called on the Honduran dentist she had helped previously and a Cuban dentist living in Honduras to assist the students.

“Most of the students that came on this trip had never been on a humanitarian trip like this, and it definitely opened our eyes to a whole new world, “ Loewen said.  “We got to help with … procedures that we don’t learn until at least our junior year, so you end up actually learning a lot about dentistry on these trips.”

Her fellow students recalled how she worked tirelessly to find funding and supplies for all of the dental work.  She telephoned different companies and presented to different organizations such as the Century Club.

“It was pretty amazing how much she was able to raise, especially considering the current economic times, where companies are not exactly in a giving mood,” Loewen said.

While her humanitarian efforts helped her fellow students in so many ways, whether it’s polishing their dental Spanish or getting a head start on procedures they will learn the next year at school, Grimm manages to balance her own schoolwork.

Now, Grimm has at least one more event to plan: her own wedding.  She got engaged over the Christmas break.

Global Dental Brigades is the new branch of Global Medical Brigades, which is the world’s largest student-led international relief organization: