Students benefit from two new scholarships
By Matt Westerfield
Students at the School of Dentistry are gaining a financial leg-up from two new scholarships aimed at rewarding topnotch skills and preclinical excellence.
The Dr. Jeffrey Alexander Memorial Pre-Clinical Achievement Award and the Dr. Chris Spraberry Award both were presented for the first time in April.
Now in his second year, John Wilke received the $500 Jeffrey Alexander award, which is presented to a first-year student for academic achievement in the preclinical sciences. And Jon Flint, now in his fourth year, received the $1,000 Chris Spraberry Award, which is given to a third-year student for excellence in pre-clinical sciences.
Dr. Donna Thomas Moses, of Carrollton, Ga., graduated from the School of Dentistry with the Class of 1990. She said she began contacting classmates in early 2010 to raise money for an endowment in the memory of fellow 1990 graduate Jeffrey Alexander. Alexander lost his battle with cancer early in his dentistry career.
"Nothing has ever been done in Jeff's memory, so I just started making calls. It came together quickly," she said. The goal was to announce the endowment on the 20th anniversary of their graduation.
"Our entire class was like a family," Moses said. "Jeff was an outstanding student. I think he'd always wanted to be a dentist because of his dad was a dentist. And he was a great tennis player."
Moses said she is very proud to have graduated from UMMC's School of Dentistry.
"I came here (to Georgia) to get my specialty in perio, and I didn't want to lose touch. I think that shows you how important that is to you," she said.
"We have one of the best dental schools in the nation. I just want to give back to the school that meant so much in my life. I think it comes from the quaintness of the school. We didn't have huge classes so we had much more one on one instruction."
Moses said she will continue to encourage her former classmates to help continue the scholarship.
The Class of 1995 Endowment in the Name of Chris Spraberry was established in 2010 by former classmates of the Gulfport dentist who died suddenly in 2009. In April, Audrey Beasley, Spraberry's sister, visited the School of Dentistry to award the first scholarship from the endowment.
On Oct. 21, Beasley held the second annual Dr. Christopher E. Spraberry Memorial Golf Tournament.
"Our first year was extremely successful and we were able to make a sizable donation to the Chris Spraberry, D.M.D. Endowment fund at UMMC."
Beasley, who presented the award to Jon Flint personally with her husband, Charlie, said Flint was very appreciative and planned to participate in the golf tournament.
"It was really special that Charlie and I had the opportunity to be there for the first award," she said.
Dr. David Duncan, right, associate dean for student affairs in the School of Dentistry, presents the Dr. Jeffrey Alexander Memorial Pre-clinical Achievement Award to first-year dentistry student John Wilke during the school's honors day ceremony April 26.
Dr. Gary Reeves, left, interim dean of the School of Dentistry, and Audrey Spraberry Beasley present the Chris Sprayberry Award to third-year dental student Jon Flint during the school's honors day ceremony April 26. The $1,000 award is the first to be given from the Class of 1995 Endowment named for Chris Spraberry, a Gulfport dentist who died in 2009.