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USM Students Chosen for Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 10:38am | By: Van Arnold

Ma’Rion Fullero, Brandon Moak and Tierra CooperUniversity of Southern Mississippi students Ma’Rion Fullero, Brandon Moak and Tierra Cooper have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program (MRDSP). 

Fuller is the daughter of Tylenosha and Joy Ferguson, Jr. of Bogue Chitto, Miss. Moak is the son of Brian and Tammy Moak of McComb, Miss. Cooper is the daughter of Dwight and Melicia Cooper of Laurel, Miss. All three are juniors at USM.

Created in 2013 by the Mississippi Legislature, MRDSP identifies up to seven college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become competent, well-trained rural pediatric or general dentists in our state.

The program offers two years of undergraduate academic enrichment including DAT (Dental Admission Test) preparation and clinical experience in a rural setting. Upon completion of all dental admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the University of MS School of Dentistry.

During dental school, each MRDSP scholar may receive $35,000 per year based on available funding. The program will award nine scholarships in 2019-2020, totaling $315,000.  With continued legislative support, the program hopes to grow to 12 scholarship totaling $420,000 by 2020.  Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural dentists and academic support. 

After completing dental school, MRDSP scholars must practice general or pediatric dentistry in a rural, medically underserved community.  The MRDSP scholar must provide dental services as determined by the MRDSP in a full-time clinical practice in an approved Mississippi community of 10,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The MRDSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to receive DAT preparation, benefit from mentoring, learn the art of oral healthcare from practicing rural dentists, and earn a $140,000 dental school scholarship in return for four years of service.

For more information, contact MRDSP Associate Director at 601-815-9022, or