S.M.I.L.E. U Overview
Shaping Minds to Inspire Lead and Explore (S.M.I.L.E. U) serves as an outreach and recruitment tool for eligible 6th – 8th grade students from underrepresented groups by providing early exploration of careers in Dentistry. In addition, S.M.I.L.E. U brings awareness to the academic curriculum and noncognitive skills needed to increase chances of success for undergraduate acceptance and admittance into professional health programs.
The goal of S.M.I.L.E. U is to create interest in participants in pursuance of dentistry as a career choice by teaching them the importance of oral health, the different career options in the dental field, and the steps to successfully gain admittance into dental school as early as possible through targeted, age specific exploration.
Additional goals of the S.M.I.L.E. U program are:
- To encourage students to participate in valuable STEM academic enrichment programs
- Gain testing and study skills that will prepare students for successful progression towards undergraduate acceptance and admittance into professional health programs.
- Build skills in professionalism and public speaking
- Learn basic financial literacy
All participants must be rising 6th to 8th grade students that fall in one or more of the following categories:
- Underrepresented groups in Dentistry (Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Alaska Native, and Native American or Pacific Islander)
- Reside in a MS rural area as defined by the selection committee
- Child or legal ward of a first-generation high school and college graduate or lesser education level.
S.M.I.L.E. U has several components as described below:
- STEM Enrichment – Participants will engage in innovative STEM enrichment activities facilitated by the UMMC School of Graduate Studies. Each day’s STEM activity will be centered around the dental exploration focus.
- Professionalism – Participants will create projects that they will present to the families on the last day of the program. They will learn the components of a academic presentation, various presentation modalities, and gain experience in public speaking
- Study Skills and Test Taking Strategies – Participants will gain knowledge and experience of best practice study techniques and test taking strategies
- Financial Literacy – Participants will complete Renasant Bank’s Understanding Youth Curriculum which consists of learning modules focused on basic financial education (Savings and Goals, Credit Sense, Bank Your Bucks, Can you pay your bills?)
- Dental and Research Exploration – Each day of the program will have a dental focus. Activities for each day will be created to give early exploration of careers in the following areas: General Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, Dental Research, and Public Health Dentistry.
Each participant is expected to abide by these guidelines:
- The participant and participant’s guardian must be engaged in all activities included in the program
- The participant and participant’s guardian must agree to the participant presenting to family and friends what they have learned during the program
- The participant and participant’s guardian must agree to attend two additional Saturday sessions during the year
- The participant and participant’s guardian must agree to follow up contact as the participant progresses through middle and high school
Before a student will be given credit for completion of the S.M.I.L.E. U program the following requirements must be met:
- The participant must attend all the days of the summer enrichment program
- The participant must present as a part of the Awards day presentation on the last day of the program
- The participant must agree to attend the two additional sessions throughout the year
- The participant must agree to allow us to contact them for additional follow-sessions on academic progression and undergraduate major declaration.