Meet the Scholars: Drew Roberts
The first-year DDS student joins nearly 70 scholarship awardees for the 2015 Friends of Dentistry Scholarship Recognition Dinner, a unique event bringing Ostrow students face to face with their generous benefactors.
BY HOPE HAMASHIGE
Attending dental school in Los Angeles was not a natural fit for Drew Roberts, a small-town kid from Roland, Okla., who prefers the bucolic over the hustle and bustle.
For his undergraduate education, Roberts chose the University of Arkansas—in part because it’s only an hour drive from the warmth and comfort of his home, family and church.
Roberts admits that L.A.’s big-city traffic and big-city prices unnerved him at first, but he felt there were kindred spirits among the students and faculty at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. “It is a very community-oriented school, and there are many ways for students to get involved in community service,” Roberts says about his decision to attend USC.
Service as a way of life
Serving his community has always been part of Roberts’ life, thanks to his parents and his church. The family’s church—where both his parents are youth pastors—donates time, money and manpower to making positive change.
Through his church, Roberts has rebuilt rooftops for neighbors in need, helped elderly people in his town clean their yards and traveled twice to Honduras to help rebuild churches, schools and houses. Roberts’ mom struck a deal with his high school principal to take Roberts and several other kids off campus at lunch to feed the homeless at a nearby shelter.
Although he didn’t dream of becoming a dentist until his junior year in college, Roberts always knew he would pursue a career that would let him return to his home town and to serve others in a meaningful way. After thinking through several career possibilities, dentistry started to make sense.
By the time Roberts entered dental school, just a few months ago, he had already formulated a plan for his life beyond USC.
Roberts, a Cherokee Indian, plans to return to eastern Oklahoma where many of the rural communities lack access to quality dentistry. Part of his future plan is to provide quality dental care on the nearby Cherokee and Choctaw reservations, where he says a good dentist can do a lot of good.
He is also researching ways to contribute his services at a nearby transitional housing project for the homeless people.
A scholarship surprise
Roberts also applied to dental school at the University of Oklahoma because, as a resident of the state, it would be less expensive than USC.
After visiting the USC campus, he decided to bite the bullet and pay the higher price. He was persuaded by USC’s broad range of specialties, but more importantly, by the way the students described the school’s spirit of collaboration.
“The idea is to make as many of the best dentists as they can and that is reflected in the way the students really help each other out,” Roberts says.
After enrolling, Roberts was pleasantly surprised to discover he was a recipient of a $15,000 scholarship from the Louis and Erma Feldman Endowment.
Roberts is one of nearly 70 students being awarded scholarships at the Friends of Dentistry Scholarship Recognition Dinner, taking place on Feb. 20 at the W Hotel in Hollywood.
Providing scholarships to deserving students —even as the price of higher education continues to increase—is one of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry’s campaign goals.
The school aims to raise $7 million for its scholarship endowment during its $115-million fundraising initiative as part of the Campaign for the University of Southern California to continue helping its students afford a quality dental education.
Having a little less debt at graduation will help Roberts get on his own feet financially so he can start giving back to his less fortunate neighbors.
“I feel so blessed,” he says.
The Friends of Dentistry Scholarship Recognition Dinner takes place Feb. 20 at the W Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.