Hometown: San Jose, CA
Career Plans: General practice, but open to specialties including oral surgery and periodontics.
My favorite part about being at the Dugoni School is the people. From my classmates to the faculty, everyone feels like family.
When Beniel Tamraz, DDS Class of 2020, talks about dental school, he is upbeat, but when he talks about community service, he really lights up the room. The enthusiasm in which he speaks about working in the community is infectious. He says his desire to help others was sparked during a college internship where he volunteered at community clinics as a dental assistant.
"Having that experience really opened my eyes to the needs of the community," recalls Beniel. "Healthcare is so important and helping those who couldn't afford dental care was so rewarding."
After the internship, Beniel started a club on campus, the Oral Health Society. The group would visit elementary schools in Sacramento and other underserved areas to provided oral health instruction to children.
His past involvement with community outreach played an important role while he was choosing dental schools. One of the main reasons Beniel decided to attend the Dugoni School of Dentistry is because of the many organizations available to the students to enrich their dental school experience. The school's Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) program was of particular interest to Beniel. SCOPE is a student-led volunteer community service organization at the dental school. Their mission is to develop dental professionals committed to improving the health of all people.
"When I found out about SCOPE I was so excited," says Beniel. "My whole philosophy is that it's great to learn and everything - but you have to take what you've learned, take it outside the building and use it in the community. Otherwise, what is it good for?"
Now in his second year, Beniel has taken on a leadership role within SCOPE by serving as a co-president. He hopes to encourage and inspire his fellow classmates to go out to in the community and use their talents and what they've learned to help those in need.
At the time of this interview, Beniel had just returned from an oral health mission in Jamaica during the fall break. The volunteers treated approximately 1,201 underserved patients in three clinics as well as a clinic at their hotel that was designed to serve employees. Most of the treatments involved fillings, cleanings, exams and extractions. The student and faculty volunteers also visited local classrooms to provide oral health instruction to children.
"Going on that mission trip to Jamaica was incredible," exclaims Beniel. "I never thought I would get so much gratitude for pulling someone's tooth, but that's exactly what happened because it relieved so much of their pain."
Beniel hopes to continue going on mission trips after graduation. As for his future career plans, he's keeping his options open.
"I'm still open to anything at this point," says Beniel. "The only thing I'm sure of is continuing community service and hopefully participate in a mission trip at least twice a year."