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UTHealth Speakers, Panelists Support Houston Hispanic Forum's Career, Education Day

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 10:44am

UTSD Associate Professor Joe Ontiveros, DDS, speaks to middle and high school students at the Houston Hispanic Forum's Career & Education Day.

UTSD Associate Professor Joe Ontiveros, DDS, speaks to middle and high school students at the Houston Hispanic Forum's Career and Education Day.

Students and faculty from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry were among the presenters at the Houston Hispanic Forum’s Career and Education Day on Feb. 9. The annual event drew more than 20,000 local middle and high school students to the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The students learned about various career and education paths, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities, and met with representatives of universities, community colleges, corporations and professional associations.

A handful of panelists from UTSD spoke about their personal backgrounds and the adversities they overcame in pursuing their career paths. They stressed higher education was possible with hard work and good grades. 

“This is a great experience for students to get an idea of what to focus on in school and what to expect in the future,” said Faryn Vela, a third-year dental student and one of the panelists.

UTHealth student panelists at Career and Education Day from left were Krystal Garza, School of Nursing;  Faryn Vela,  Nadia Garza and Aaron Menchaca, all of the School of Dentistry; and Claudia Mendez, School of Public Health.

UTHealth student panelists at Houston Hispanic Forum's Career and Education Day (from left) were Krystal Garza, School of Nursing; Faryn Vela, Nadia Garza and Aaron Menchaca, all of the School of Dentistry; and Claudia Mendez, School of Public Health.

Other panel participants from UTSD included Community Outreach Director Margo Melchor, RDH, MEd; Associate Professor Joe Ontiveros, DDS, MS, and Nadia Garza, a second-year dental hygiene student. Garza said she hoped sharing her experience would help steer students toward a college education.

The Hispanic Student Dental Association chapter at the School of Dentistry staffed a booth in the exhibition area to talk to youth about careers in dentistry and dental hygiene. Students and faculty from the other five UTHealth schools also participated in the panels and exhibitions. Melchor coordinated the UTHealth delegation at the event.

“I look forward to coordinating this event every year because it’s such a great opportunity for middle and high school students to get motivated and learn about possible careers,” Melchor said.  

David Lopez, assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health, served as a panelist for the first time, and found the experience rewarding.  “I hope our next generation of students is motivated to pursue higher education,” he said.