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Lighting Others' Smiles

February 2019

Karen Membreno

Despite significant advances in oral healthcare, millions of low-income Americans still suffer from poor oral health. Children in this population experience five times more untreated cavities than those from higher-income homes.

After shadowing a dentist who specializes in dental care for low-income families, BYU senior Karen Membreño realized that she wants to be a part of the solution to this public health crisis. “If it wasn’t for the opportunities I had, I easily could’ve been one of my mentor’s patients. Instead, I’m a predental student shadowing him,” she says. “I plan to use my skills as a dentist to help those in need because I know what it’s like to not be able to afford dental care.”

A replenishment grant from the California Los Angeles North BYU Alumni Chapter enabled Membreño to pursue her goal of providing low-cost dentistry. “I work part-time every semester while going to school full-time, but I always fall short on being able to pay for tuition, books, rent, and groceries.” The replenishment grant, she says, “makes a world of difference.”