Club Watch

Student club supports minority students on their pre-dental journey

Student leaders of the POC sSmiles club pose in front of a screen thanking members for their participation.

Officers of the POC Smiles club pose together after a meeting. From left are Eghosa Oshodin, treasurer; Fatoumata Magassouba, president; Naja Nelson, secretary; Abdul Abouelnagga, event coordinator; Abdelsalam Badr, shadowing coordinator; and Nosakhare Adodo, vice president. Photo provided by POC Smiles.


Undergraduate English major

Published April 10, 2024

Fatoumata Magassouba.
“I wanted to build a community where we can help each other reach our goal of becoming dentists, which is important because minority students are underrepresented in the dental field. ”
Fatoumata Magassouba, senior pre-dental student and president
POC Smiles

Editor’s note: It’s not always easy for students to find their place at a large, research university like UB. Thankfully, there are hundreds of clubs on campus — nearly 500, in fact — where students can take a break from their studies, make friends, pursue their passions or simply try something new. UB clubs build a sense of belonging and True Blue pride in the university. To help, UBNow has introduced Club Watch, an occasional feature highlighting one of UB’s many student clubs or organizations that you may not know about — but should.

As a pre-dental student, Fatoumata Magassouba’s focus was on her challenging classes and strengthening her dental school application. As a result, Magassouba felt like she missed out on the extracurricular activities that other college students seemed to experience and enjoy. To remedy this, she decided to connect extracurriculars with her pre-dentistry path and create a space where other pre-dental students of color could find support and career-building opportunities. 

Now in the spring of her senior year, Magassouba feels sentimental about the legacy she is leaving behind at UB: the POC Smiles club.

“I wanted to build a community where we can help each other reach our goal of becoming dentists, which is important because minority students are underrepresented in the dental field,” says Magassouba, who is the current president of POC Smiles. “I think when we’re surrounded by other minority students, we’re able to help support each other when our courses and applications become overwhelming.” 

This lack of representation, Magassouba notes, stems significantly from socioeconomic barriers, including limited access to quality education, mentorship and support. With the creation of POC Smiles, she hopes to help her fellow students overcome these barriers to success. 

In its second semester, the young club is growing steadily, with engaging meetings and important connections being formed between eager undergraduates and professionals in the dental field. And pre-dental students who join POC Smiles have access to professional development and networking opportunities. 

“We foster connections with UB dental students who can serve as mentors to our pre-dental club members, providing invaluable guidance and support on the pre-dental journey,” Magassouba explains. 

At a recent meeting, club members met with a panel of current dental students who answered their questions about courses, dental school applications and finding opportunities to strengthen them as dental school applicants. 

“Our members loved the panel because the dental students were able to tell us what their journey to get into dental school was like, which was beneficial because it’s different for everyone, and we all take different routes to reach our goals,” Magassouba says.

Because pre-dental students are required to shadow at dental facilities before applying to dental school, the club’s most valuable resource is support in finding these placements — something Magassouba wishes she had help with as a young undergraduate. Club members also have access to resumé workshops, guidance on effective pre-dental coursework study strategies and support on finding volunteering opportunities. 

There’s a fun aspect to club meetings, too. POC Smiles has hosted game nights featuring “Jeopardy” and “Kahoot,” where members answer dental questions for prizes, as well as cookie-decorating events to help students relax during finals week. “The fun is part of making the meetings interactive and engaging for pre-dental students,” Magassouba says.

In the coming weeks, the club will host a meeting to discuss the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and help students prepare for the exam. Magassouba also hopes to volunteer at local elementary schools to raise awareness about dental hygiene and hand out oral hygiene goodies to young students. 

Even though Magassouba will be graduating in a few months, she is still hard at work expanding her club. She says the club will be in good hands in the fall when current vice president, Nosakhare Adodo, takes over as president. 

POC Smiles is focused on the pre-dental experiences of minority students, but pre-dental students of all backgrounds are welcome. Magassouba encourages all pre-dental students to visit the club’s Instagram page for information about events and to attend club meeting, which are held biweekly on Fridays at 6 p.m. in 117 Baldy.