Dr. Sherece Thompson, DDS, and the Malcolm X College Dental Hygiene program have been named the 2022 “Dental Volunteer of the Year” by CommunityHealth, a Chicago-based, volunteer-supported healthcare organization that provides health services at no charge to low-income, uninsured adults in Chicago.
Dr. Thompson is an assistant professor of Health Science & Career Programs – Dental Hygiene and the community outreach coordinator of the Dental Hygiene program at Malcolm X College. She will attend the CommunityHealth 2022 Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony, to be held virtually on December 8, 2022. CommunityHealth is one of the largest volunteer-based health providers of free and low-cost medical care in the United States.
In addition to their work with CommunityHealth, the Malcolm X Dental Hygiene program operates a clinic which provides free screenings and affordable dental services to members of the City Colleges community and the general public.
Since community outreach is an integral part of Dr. Thompson’s role and service learning is woven into the student experience dental hygiene program at Malcolm X, she didn’t expect the news that she and her students earned the award.
“An important element of our curriculum is students going out into the community and providing service to marginalized communities in clinics,” she explained. “Since it’s woven into the Dental Hygiene program, I was surprised but so glad.”
Dr. Thompson joined City Colleges in 2012 and teaches two dental hygiene courses in nutrition and community health and serves as the supervising dentist 1.5 days a week at the Malcolm X College dental hygiene clinic.
Proud to guide her dental hygiene students toward what she calls “public health dentistry”, Dr. Thompson believes they earned the award from CommunityHealth as a result of their dedication to service. Her community health class has plans to record a thank you video to share at next week’s virtual awards ceremony.
“My students deserve all the accolades. They provide oral care in the CommunityHealth clinic once a month and many of the people we serve come to our Malcolm X clinic as well,” Dr. Thompson said.
Dr. Thompson’s passion for community dental health began when she worked at TCH Health, a federally qualified healthcare center serving Altgeld Gardens, one of the Chicago Public Housing developments on Chicago’s far South Side. She later offered free dental care to patients through the Free People’s Clinic in the basement of a former church building in Garfield Park. Those experiences encouraged her to split her time between her private dental practice and affordable health clinics to make a wider impact. She retired from private practice earlier this year, but continues her work at Malcolm X College while serving as a part-time clinical instructor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Dentistry and volunteering at the Chicago Dental Society Foundation clinic.
Dental Hygiene at Malcolm X College is a two-year program leading to an Associate of Applied Science. Learn more at https://www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x/departments/Pages/Dental-Hygiene.aspx.