Dental school grad encourages students to succeed: ‘It’s our obligation to help the next person’

Recognizing the importance of having people believe in you and invest in your future success, Tamesha Morris set up a scholarship to aid students following in her footsteps.

Tamesha Morris.
Tamesha Morris graduated from the VCU School of Dentistry in 2003. After supporting student scholarships for many years, she recently established the Dr. Tamesha Morris Scholarship Fund to provide support and encouragement for future students at the school. (Kevin Schindler)

Childhood trips to the dentist are among some of the most vivid memories for Tamesha Morris, D.D.S. She recalls being unafraid and finding the visits comfortable — two things she strives for now in her own practice. Morris knew she wanted to become a dentist by the 10th grade after researching possible careers. She enjoyed helping people, and she liked working with her hands and had honed sharp spatial perception skills through years of painting and sewing.

“It just seemed natural for me,” said Morris, a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. “I knew that’s what I wanted to be.”

During dental school, she recalls a real sense of camaraderie among the classmates she still keeps in touch with and the rigorous but excellent education she received in labs and clinics.

“We were pushed, and it was greatly appreciated,” she said. “It was hard, but I learned a lot.”

After nearly a decade of being the sole owner of a dental practice in Northern Virginia, she is expanding her reach by partnering with young and retiring dentists who are looking for a managing partner. She’s also been reflecting more as she writes a memoir on how important it is to have people in your life who believe in your goals and invest in your future success.

For many years, she gave back to support the Dr. Francis M. Foster Sr. Student National Dental Association Scholarship, which was created in memory of a beloved faculty member she knew during her time as a student at VCU.

“Having him there when I was a student was reassuring and allowed me to see myself in the profession,” Morris said. “I wanted to make sure I was able to continue to support other students coming up who would understand his importance and legacy when he was on the faculty.”

Recently, Morris established the Dr. Tamesha Morris Scholarship Fund at the School of Dentistry to help ensure future generations of dentists receive the support she did as a student. Her scholarship is something she hopes will offer encouragement for students to keep going and succeed. She also hopes to be a mentor to those entering the field to help share what she’s learned along the way.

“I feel like it’s our duty, as professionals, if you make it to a certain level,” Morris said. “It’s our obligation to help the next person. During this next chapter of my career, I want to return what I’ve learned and earned to the next generation of dentists.”

This story was originally published in Chronicle of Giving magazine under the headline “Mentoring and supporting the next generation of dentists.” For more stories like this, visit MCVFoundation.org.

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