2020 Scholarship Winners & Essays


Jacqueline Hassenplug, Midwestern College of Dental Medicine
Over the years, I have devoted time volunteering at Misericordia Heart of Mercy home for children and adults with special needs, to handing out medals at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and many other volunteer events as opportunities arose. While I was in college, I was Philanthropy Chair for Autism Speaks. I have always enjoyed helping others throughout my childhood and have continued pursuing this passion into adulthood. While I have been in dental school, I have engaged in leadership roles, which have enhanced my exposure and experience, including being President of the American Student Dental Association, and Delta Sigma Delta Dental Fraternity during my third year. 

These experiences helped me gain leadership experience while opening my eyes to life outside of dental school, including organized dentistry. Working closely with large dental organizations, such as the ADA and ISDS, I have learned what it really means to change the lives of others. Not only do I plan to help my patients every way possible and improve their overall health, but I hope to affect the lives of other dentists and their patients as well after I graduate. As a graduate, I do not want my time in organized dentistry to bring my volunteering to a halt. To the contrary, I hope to take on leadership positions within ISDS right after dental school and far into my career. During ISDS Capital Conference and ADA Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to meet many incredible dentists within ISDS, and I am looking forward to these same events in 2021. I networked with many of these dentists and took the opportunity to invite them to come lecture at Midwestern throughout the school year on various dental topics. 

As a new dentist, I hope to enrich the lives of current dentists as well as dental students. I aspire to making this connection as dentists have done for me. It really provides students an insight into what dentistry is like in the real world outside of school scenarios. In addition, I hope to bridge this connection by sitting on the ISDS New Dentist Committee and helping new dentists, like myself, find mentorships, networking opportunities, and seminars aimed directly at new dentists. I hope to engage this committee in working with the three dental schools within our state to help dental students see the value of organized dentistry, as well making the transition of graduating easier. I know the resources are out there, but as President of ASDA, I feel most of our students were not well informed on these opportunities prior to this year! After my time on the New Dentist Committee and becoming better familiarized with ISDS, I hope to continue my leadership through various committees and executive board positions. Through organized dentistry, I will not only be able to help my patients, but millions of other patients in Illinois by enriching the lives of dentists in our state, by organizing various events such as CE and Capital Conference!


Benjamin Richardson, University of Illinois College of Dentistry
I am honored to be considered for this year’s scholarship from the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation, an organization I work with and greatly admire. ISDS’s mission includes a focus on education and ensuring that the highest quality dental care is provided to the public, two issues I am very passionate about.

Pursuing a career as a dentist has been my goal since adolescence, and I have made community service an integral part of my journey. Throughout my formal years in dental education, I have had a penchant towards volunteering at health clinics and events for the disadvantaged. One of my favorite service events was volunteering at the last ISDS Mission of Mercy event in Springfield, IL. It was amazing to see what a dedicated group of dental professionals could achieve by providing free care to the large underserved population. It was clear that this amazing feat could only be accomplished via strong leadership. Through my leadership roles as President of UIC College of Dentistry’s Class of 2021, President of UIC Student Professionalism and Ethics Association (UIC SPEA) and recent District 7 Commissioner of our area for the ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows, I have focused my efforts on engaging others by coming together to continuously improve our profession and help those in need. I am committed to using my skills as a dentist to make a difference in our community by volunteering my time and expertise to the underserved and to mentoring future dentists.

So, where does dentistry go from here, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts all that we do? Certainly, leadership in organized dentistry is strong, but must always be looking for ways to evolve and improve. Groups like ISDS continue to provide helpful guidance and assurances to both patients and providers. One can clearly respect the importance and influence of organized dentistry especially during these times, and I know our future will be bright if our profession remains team driven. When I receive my dental degree, I will be ready to embrace my role as a dentist by continuing to improve our dental profession and assuring access to all who need it. After graduation, I look forward to joining organizations such as ISDS as an engaged member in order to continue to have direct influence on legislature, education, and quality of care.

Living in the Land of Lincoln, I want to end with one of my favorite quotes of his that I believe highlights ISDS’s mission and the future of dentistry: “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” During these unprecedented and uncertain times, we as health care providers and dentists must stand firm in our mission to be leaders of the community, serving all patients to the best of our ability, and work together to improve the livelihood of our neighbors.


Alexandra Nash, Southern Illinois University School 
of Dental Medicine
While stepping out of a van, miles from home in an impoverished rural area of Jamaica, our dental service team was greeted by a chorus of children. “Dentists!” they cheered, coming at us with welcoming smiles. The lift they gave me touched my heart in a way that’s inspired me to always give my very best where all patients feel accepted, comfortable, and cared for. 

Together, our team saw 535 patients that week, many of which were children. I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to serve as many patients as our time allowed. Upon reflection, I’ve had many wonderful experiences on this journey to becoming a dentist. This service trip was definitely a highlight. It taught me more about who I am and what matters most to me – working within a diverse team to grow my skills and improve dentistry so that more can be given back to those in need. I am completely enthralled by the endless opportunities I’ll have to incorporate community service into my everyday life as a dentist. In addition to participating in benevolent dental clinics in my regional area and service trips abroad, I plan to continue to regularly visit elementary schools and aid teachers in educating children about oral health. As a professional, education very important to me. Therefore, I also plan to mentor students and encourage them to seek their fullest potential. I grew up in a small, rural community and plan to return one day with my own practice. I hope to serve as a point of contact for young students and create a scholarship to help sponsor their education and enrichment. Furthermore, I look forward to teaming up with other business and professional leaders in my community to bring about change for those in need. Throughout my career, it is my goal to lead through example and show others that service, whether through big or small efforts, has a lasting, positive impact on society.

I also plan to make a difference in the lives of others through grassroot advocacy efforts with both my local and state dental societies. As our school’s chapter President of the American Student Dental Association, I’m honored to have represented my class at conferences and advocate in Washington, D.C., for both our patients and profession. I’m most grateful to serve as a liaison while speaking about issues affecting our patients, and I wish to continue my involvement with advocacy efforts in my future career. I am incredibly thankful for the experiences I’ve had with ISDS dentists at the ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. Through their guidance and mentorship, I have been able to discuss important issues including student debt and the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, which requires insurance companies to cover the necessary treatment for patients born with congenital anomalies. These experiences have shown me the incredible value of organized dentistry and inspire me to continue to use my voice and abilities to advocate for the protection of our patients.