Local Dentist Gives $25,000 for Dental Student Scholarships

Local Dentist Gives $25,000 for Dental Student Scholarships

Gift announced during roundtable discussion with incoming Hunt School of Dental Medicine students

Minyoung Lee, D.D.S., announced a $25,000 gift to support the Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso during a roundtable discussion with incoming dental students from the inaugural class. 

The informal conversation included TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., Hunt School of Dental Medicine Dean Richard C. Black, D.D.S., M.S., Dr. Lee and four local soon-to-be dental students. They discussed the dental school, the importance of giving back to El Paso and the flourishing dental health community in the Borderland. Afterward, they enjoyed Dr. Lee’s favorite snack, Costco pizza.

Dr. Lee is a general dentist with Sunny Smiles Family Dentistry in Far East El Paso. She’s a recent transplant from Southern California, where she received her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from the University of Southern California and a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry in 2019.

Minyoung Lee, D.D.S.

As a new dentist with student loans, Dr. Lee saw the value of giving back to students who may face financial hurdles in dental school. The $25,000 gift will be used to fund five scholarships for incoming dental students. It’s her opportunity to champion the community that has supported her new professional career.

“When I thought about giving, I was asked if I had received a scholarship myself, but I didn’t have much luck receiving a scholarship,” said Dr. Lee. “I was raised by mentors who showed me that you can give to other people wherever you are. These mentors were medical doctors, leaders in my church and friends who just love to give. I happened to find an opportunity to give at the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.”

She hopes that her gift will inspire other dentists to give to the new dental school, reflecting the great support El Pasoans have had for TTUHSC El Paso.

“The fact that this campus exists at all is because of the tremendous support from El Paso.  The dental school is a gift back to our community,” said Hunt School of Medicine Dean Dr. Black. “Dr. Lee is new to El Paso and has only been in the Borderland for little over a year. She stepped forward early in her career with a very generous gift for our dental students’ education.”

Dr. Lee will also give her time to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s Office of Admissions by volunteering to interview students during future admission cycles.  She will provide a welcomed perspective as a newly practicing dentist in an area that’s been historically underserved.

Dr. Black said scholarships offer the school a competitive advantage. “There are other dental schools in Texas and across the nation that want to recruit students from our area by giving them scholarships,” he said. “Every chance we get, we want to celebrate someone like Dr. Lee, who is helping so we can recruit and retain students from our area. We’re proud that our admissions department has recruited almost 50% of our class from our targeted counties.”

During the roundtable, Dr. Lee was asked about her dental school experience and her experience as a dentist in El Paso. Her story made an impact with the new students.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to my community in any way that I can,” said Cassandra Salas, a member of the inaugural class of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine. “Speaking to Dr. Lee has inspired me to give back now and in my future.”

The roundtable discussion premiered on TTUHSC El Paso’s Facebook page and is available for viewing at www.facebook.com/ttuhscep.

About the Hunt School of Dental Medicine

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso will be the home of the first dental school to open in Texas in nearly 50 years.

Across West Texas, many suffer from poor dental health due to a lack of access to affordable care – in 2017, only 50% of El Paso residents visited a dentist. In El Paso County, there’s only one dentist for every 4,840 residents, compared to the national average of one dentist for every 1,638. Currently, more than 50% of Texas’ general dentists are currently located in the five most populated counties, hundreds of miles from West Texas. 

In the past 10 years, only 22 out of 2,390 Texas dental school graduates have chosen to practice in West Texas. 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 region.  The school welcomed its first class of 40 students in 2021.