The distances in Alaska are vast. Even when they’re not neighboring communities are often cut off from one another during the winter as waterways freeze over requiring snow vehicles where once a boat would do. DHATs are meant to bridge the gap of yearly visits from itinerant dentists by living in these communities where they were raised and understand the culture. Many DHAT providers have a service region that extends beyond the base community where they live. Neighboring communities can add 80 more residents here, 100 more there, sometimes doubling their patient load above the base community. Even short distances require complex travel, usually by plane, to provide proper oral healthcare services to those who would not otherwise benefit.
Samantha B. BrownKotzebue, AK
Sponsored by the Maniilaq Association
“I was born and raised in a family that has a history of Inupiaq dancing. I’ve been dancing since I could walk. This is my way of keeping our traditions alive—singing and dancing the Inupiaq songs while wearing traditional regalia. I would say this is a very important piece of my culture to hold close to my heart, for it has taught me unity in diversity. There is no doubt that Alaska is short of dental providers. This is a place where I see myself giving back to my community. Dental school is my next step in life not only because my fellow Alaskans need more dental providers, but because I know in my heart that this is what I want to do.”