Ann Layvey was raised to ‘give back,’ so it seems natural that her academic career at Penn Dental Medicine has been underpinned by community service.
“My mom always helped me to see the importance of outreach,” says Ann, who, from an early age, was involved in helping her community in New York by serving those in need. During her undergraduate experience, she volunteered at the New York University Hospital, and has consistently supported community service at Penn Dental Medicine, where it is also an integral part of the School’s curriculum. “By dealing with what concerns others, we define our own humanity,” she says.
Tapping into that ingrained altruism, Ann teamed with fellow students to help organize a new outreach program for the School that complimented their studies. In spring 2009, she co-coordinated Penn Dental Medicine’s first Oral Cancer Walk, garnering attention to oral cancer and over $16,000 in donations for the Oral Cancer Foundation. “We modeled this walk on the ones done in New York, Michigan, and Washington, D.C., and were thrilled beyond expectations for our first year,” she says. Nearly 300 participated in the walk, and 75 people came out for oral cancer screenings, effectively raising the community service profile of Penn Dental Medicine and building public awareness about how oral cancer screenings save lives. “This was our first year for this walk, and our goal is to keep it going,” she says.
In addition to helping the community in Philadelphia, Ann also put her skills to work in a more northern latitude. The summer after her third year, she traveled to a remote Inupiaq village in Barrow, Alaska as part of an externship program established by a Penn Dental Medicine alumna who directed a clinic for the Artic Slope Native Association in Barrow. “I expected to be challenged, but I also expected to apply my clinical experience to support these villagers,” she says. Ann spent two weeks in the village, during the season when the sun never sets, delivering preventive dentistry to children and providing oral hygiene education programs in schools. “Access to oral healthcare for rural Alaska Native people is a big medical concern,” she says. “It was rewarding to use my skills to make a difference there”.
The health promotion classes at Penn Dental Medicine have fueled humanitarian aspirations for Ann, who plans to work in a disadvantaged community for several years after graduation. “Not only has my academic experience prepared me professionally,” she says, “but it has also molded and shaped me for community service.”