For Black History Month, we’re amplifying the impact, voices and leaders of the UF College of Dentistry — past and present. Enjoy the reflections of some of our outstanding students and alumni.
Destiny Corbett, DMD Class of 2025
“Growing up, I never had a healthcare professional who looked like me. However, my parents made it known that I could indeed become a dentist by working hard, overcoming barriers, and stepping into spaces that weren’t always the most welcoming with confidence. I want to pay it forward by supporting, uplifting, and encouraging other minority students to pursue higher education and medical careers.
I would like to remind others that being a minority should not deter them from reaching beyond the stars. I hope to positively impact the University of Florida College of Dentistry community by implementing more diversity initiatives, celebrating minority students, and participating in mentorship opportunities. Additionally, I hope to use my enrollment at UFCD to better serve minority communities that lack access to dental care, as well as increase awareness of how social determinants can negatively impact health.”
Keith E. McIntosh, DMD Class of 2023
“I hope to leave a legacy that inspires students to pursue advanced education even if they are the minority in their field of choice. As a black student pursuing a career in dentistry, I want future students to use me as a resource when they face adversities along their journey. Current and future Gators can use my story as motivation to remain focused, resilient, and determined to achieve all their goals. The University of Florida has given me an amazing opportunity to achieve a goal that I once thought was impossible. Marking my impact on this campus is the avenue I want to take to create breakthroughs for other minority students pursuing healthcare and other related fields.”
Wunmi Oni, DMD Class of 2023
“I hope to leave a legacy of the importance of support for Black students at UFCD. Growing up, I have always had a mindset of paying it forward, leaving a legacy and creating opportunities for Black students to thrive. I want Black students to not only see the University of Florida as a place where they would fit in, but to also maximize their experiences here and become amazing future physicians!
I firmly believe that little things add up to great impact. Whether it is making it a point to know all the Black students well, spending time having fun with them or connecting them to Black alumni or faculty, I try to be as intentional as I can. Although we are few, Black students are an integral part of the UFCD family, and I love supporting that in any way.”
Roger Phanord, DMD | Kevin Phanord, DMD & Kyle Phanord, DMD
Shannon Robinson, DMD Class of 2025
“I discovered my passion for dentistry at a young age. Back then, no one believed I was serious when I told them I would become a dentist some day. And why would they believe me? Black women are rare to none within the field of dentistry.
The legacy I hope to leave behind at UFCD is one in which other black pre-dental students can follow. I want UFCD to continue diversifying its classes and creating an inclusive environment for all students. Black students, especially, need to know that they are vital to the future of dentistry and welcome at UFCD. The knowledge and skills we acquire during dental school will transform the oral health outcomes of African Americans within our communities for years to come!”
Tamara-Kay Tibby, D.M.D., M.P.H.
“My hope as a dental student at UF in the late 90s was to leave a legacy and impact that widened, paved, smoothed and extended the path that was forged for me by the sacrifices and contributions of bold African Americans and diverse-minded students who attended dental school at Florida before me. Part of that legacy includes service to UF and surrounding communities, public health advocacy to increase access to health care for underserved populations, and efforts to increase diversity at UFCD.
Now as a UF alumna, I continue to walk the path blazed for me, and I’ve learned to be comfortable with breaking glass ceilings and pressing my way through doors into spaces I was not wanted, welcomed, or where, despite my academic success and experience, I was viewed as unqualified. The road has been difficult and emotionally taxing at times, and I encountered many barriers in my life on my path to becoming a Harvard-trained, board-certified pediatric dentist, but my experiences at UF and beyond have helped me grow tremendously as a leader, and have strengthened my faith in God.
My hope is that diversity and inclusion for minorities and women continues to grow, building and blending into the rich reputation of excellence and service that all UFCD students are known for, and that students of all races, cultures, genders and socioeconomic statuses feel welcome when they choose our dental school.
It has always been my desire and calling to reach back to help others, to encourage and to lift up the next generation of dentists. It is my legacy to continue to blaze a smoother path, so that those who follow behind me can navigate it much easier. I hope to continue being a light for the next generation of young African Americans and other women just like me who can use that extra bit of courage to move forward.”
Sydnee Vaughan, DMD Class of 2023
“When I first decided that I wanted to become a dentist, I had one goal – to make an impact.
Growing up, it was hard to imagine myself as a dentist because I truly did not see anyone that looked like me in the field of dentistry. However, if it wasn’t for the supportive friends, family, faculty and school that I have surrounded myself with, I would not be where I am today. I want to pay it forward by paving a path that I once thought was impossible by creating opportunities and an environment for students of all races, religions and ethnicities to thrive in. I, alongside my classmates, have worked to create and promote initiatives that enhance diversity, inclusion and equity across the College of Dentistry.
As future health care providers, and as individuals, it is important that we recognize the barriers and disparities that minority communities face, so that we can be the force of change. Community service and public health advocacy have always been a part of my life that I am passionate about and have been lucky to embrace at the University of Florida. From spending my Wednesday nights providing free dental care or mentoring minority students, you will always find me paying it forward and giving back to my community. As a dental student at THE University of Florida, this is how I want to be remembered.”
ArNelle Wright, D.M.D., M.S.
“As I think of the legacy I left at UFCD, and how it has shaped me into the leader I am today, I immediately think of my mindset.
I’ve always had a love for personal growth and development, and I entered dental school with the mentality to be my very best. I believe that when we get better as individuals, everything around is tends to do the same. With that belief system in mind, I want students who aspire to be in my shoes to actually start there and continue showing up fully as a constantly growing and evolving person.
Now that I’m in practice, I realize how valuable it is to be constantly evolving, a leader of my team and for my patients. As it helps me to continue attempting and achieving goals, I believe I’ll be able to teach and leave an even greater legacy behind, resulting in making an even greater impact.”