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Profiles in Giving

Simulation Learning Center

A few nights a week as One Kneeland Street closes up shop, the new Simulation Learning Center on the 14th floor is still buzzing: To help prepare first- and second- year students for their practical exams, fourth-year students and teaching assistants like Shauna Basil, D11; Diana Esshaki, D11; and Steven Nguyen, D11; are not only providing peer tutoring, but also honing their teaching skills and continuing the dental school's tradition of giving back.

"It's a really wonderful system," says Dean Lonnie Norris. "I'm so impressed when I see the TAs–they look like junior faculty members. I can see them maturing and becoming more knowledgeable themselves through teaching." Esshaki adds, "I want to teach–and this is a great learning environment for that."

At roughly 10 to 15 students per TA, first- and second-years are not only benefitting from a high-tech clinic that eases the transition from practice to reality, they're able to break down their problems in a more intimate setting with folks who know the routine.

"Our sessions are more structured for easier access to answers, versus a lecture where there are 180 students in the room," says Nguyen. Students are able to work on more than one project at a time while interacting with successful fourth-years. "They can see that although this is a difficult period for them in their curriculum, there is a light at the end of the tunnel," adds Basil, proof positive of the system.

About the Gifts

Dean Norris adds, "Annual fund dollars and financial support are so important because they give us that extra boost to keep our facilities like the Simulation Learning Center technologically advanced. And while the lab is an impressive sight to see on its own, when the activity is in there, that's when the real life and significance of what we're doing shines through."