Giving Back, Paying it Forward

Inspiration at the Annual CU School of Dental Medicine Luncheon

Bushra “Bo” Omar was born in Kenya to Somalian parents whose commitment to providing the world’s best education for their children took the family to four countries on three continents, all before Bo turned 14. Health care piqued her interest and, after exploring many avenues, she chose the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. “I love how a dentist can transform someone’s life in a very short period of time,” she said.

Bo was one of two student scholarship recipients who shared their stories at last Friday’s annual CU School of Dental Medicine Scholarship Luncheon. Nearly 60 students and faculty gathered with scholarship benefactors to celebrate the impact of private support for students pursuing degrees in dental medicine.

Dean Denise Kassebaum expressed gratitude for all that a strong community of benefactors makes possible for students like Bo. “Your support helps enhance their stories and their journeys toward becoming leaders in the dental profession,” she said. She noted that the CU School of Dental Medicine community comprises not only students and faculty, but all of the patients and families they serve in Colorado and around the world.


Stuart “Nick” Winter was a business finance major in college, until a particularly meaningful experience during a Semester at Sea program inspired him to change direction. While he had saved up for a semester spent traveling the world, he didn’t have enough to fully fund the semester abroad on his own. His father, a dentist, kicked in to make the trip a reality. In appreciation, Nick sought out a dentist in each of the 12 countries he visited, learning about the care offered and compiling a photo calendar for his dad. “I was struck by the disparities in international dental care,” he said, “and decided to serve others through a career in dental medicine.” Nick soon departs for Guatemala, where he’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience caring for the underserved.

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions Rick Mediavilla noted that over the past decade, the CU School of Dental Medicine has awarded more than $3.7 million in scholarships and student awards – an average of nearly $320,000 per year. “This funding helps ensure that our students have the financial resources to achieve success,” he said. “I know first-hand the impact of scholarships, having received this important support while I was a CU student.”

For Bo and Nick, scholarships not only impact them financially, but provide an extra boost of support in the knowledge that others are rooting for them and invested in their success. “My scholarship means that someone believes in me,” Bo said, “and that they want me to fulfill my dreams.” Nick shared his gratitude on behalf of all dental scholarship recipients, saying “words cannot express how much your generous support means to us.”

Associate Vice Chancellor of Advancement Jim Hodge spoke about the power of partnerships between dreamers like Bo and Nick, and dream makers like the benefactors supporting their education. “Those of you who support scholarships are indeed dream makers,” he said. “We acknowledge and thank you for your commitments, and for being soul models for us all.” Jim urged today’s scholarship recipients to do great and courageous work. “Be remarkable,” he said, “and when you have had an important life and career, consider the next generation.” He encouraged students to make a promise to themselves that when they are able, “consider paying forward your own scholarship and keep this beautiful philanthropic flywheel spinning.”

Mar, 14 2018