Dr. Kim Martin gives $25,000 to Dental Excellence Fund as a part of TTUHSC El Paso’s National Dentist’s Day celebration
With the goal of developing future Paso del Norte dentists in and out of the classroom, the president of the New Mexico Dental Association announced a personal gift of $25,000 to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine on Friday, March 4.
Kim Martin, D.M.D., presented the gift in honor of her children during a ceremony at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. The funds will go to the Dental Excellence Fund, which supports the education of current and future dental students.
“I’m so honored to make a donation to the dental school under your names, to not only mark our contribution, but to recognize all the other students who might be juggling families, spouses, aging parents, or just trying to balance our crazy lives, in general,” Dr. Martin said in a letter to her children, which was read at the ceremony. “We’re all in this together.”
Dr. Martin is a long-time practicing dentist in the Las Cruces area. She currently serves patients at University Family Dental, where her niece, Patricia Martin, D.D.S., also practices. In addition to her role as New Mexico Dental Association president, Dr. Martin is a member of the New Mexico COVID-19 Dental Advisory Team and is a former New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care member.
In recognition of Dr. Martin’s generous gift, TTUHSC El Paso named a pediatric suite in the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic after Dr. Martin’s two children, Jackson and Maeson. Both children were born early in Dr. Martin’s journey to become the dentist she is today. Jackson was born during her first clinical semester of dental school and she would bring him to the lab while she worked. Maeson was 18 months old when Dr. Martin opened her dental practice and as a result, it was common for her to accompany mom at work.
“You are the ones who truly sacrificed by having a working mom,” Dr. Martin wrote. “In my journey to help other dental students through this giving, I want to serve as an example that sometimes God just puts the right souls in your life.”
Hunt School of Dental Medicine Dean Richard C. Black, D.D.S., M.S., said the gift and pediatric suite are just the latest examples of the strong partnership the Hunt School of Dental Medicine has with Dr. Martin and the New Mexico dental community.
“Dr. Kim Martin is an outstanding member of the Las Cruces dental community and has helped future pre-dental students by allowing them to shadow her in her office,” Dr. Black said. “Dr. Martin has also taken time away from her busy practice to come to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and interview prospective students with us throughout the fall cycle of applications.”
Dr. Martin was one of the 35 community dentists from the area who helped Hunt School of Dental Medicine faculty interview students for the inaugural class. The school received over 900 applications for only 40 spots in the class of 2025. Dr. Martin also plans to contribute her time as a Hunt School of Dental Medicine community faculty member, as a volunteer clinical instructor.
This is exciting news for students, according to New Mexico State University student Felisha Vallabh, who was lucky enough to shadow Dr. Martin as a sophomore. She called Dr. Martin a role model for pre-dental students and women, not just because of her dedication to her profession, but also because of how she treated staff and students as if they were family members.
“Dr. Martin goes above and beyond to establish personal connections with each of her patients. She’ll put a blanket on a patient if they’re cold, turn on their favorite TV show and do anything to soothe their anxiety before beginning treatment,” said Vallabh, who is a past president of NMSU’s Pre-Dental Society. “As a woman in what used to be a predominantly male career, Dr. Martin is a remarkable example of what it means to break the glass ceiling in dentistry. She taught me that women can be successful business owners and serve in leadership positions in the dental world and our community. She is a phenomenal woman and inspires young women like me to take dentistry by storm.”
Thanks in part to Dr. Martin, Vallabh has applied to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, with the hopes of being part of the school’s class of 2026. She also hopes to be working with her mentor once again in the near future.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine, opened in 2021, is the first dental school on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the first in Texas in over 50 years. Its location on the Texas-New Mexico border will also benefit Southern New Mexico, especially since the state currently does not have a dental school, according to the New Mexico Dental Association.
In October 2021, the New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED) and Hunt School of Dental Medicine announced an agreement in which the agency will cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for two New Mexico students who otherwise would be required to pay the higher out-of-state tuition to attend the Texas school. The funds, provided by the New Mexico Legislature, will cover up to $20,000 in tuition per student.
One of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s goals is to reduce the shortage of dentists in the region. Because most graduating dentists establish their practices in proximity to their dental schools, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will help alleviate the severe shortage of dentists in the Paso del Norte and Southern New Mexico regions.
As part of efforts to improve the accessibility of oral health care in the area, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine offers reduced-cost dental care in its 38,000 square-foot public dental clinic, the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. The clinic comes equipped with 145 treatment chairs where students work with faculty providers to deliver high-quality oral health care to residents of the Borderplex region.
Check out our photos from the event: