Janice Darko, a Ghanaian immigrant, will make history on May 19 when she graduates from the school of dentistry at the University of Utah and becomes the first Black woman to do so.
Darko, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, came to this country with her family, claims KUTV. When she was enrolled in the dental program at the University of Utah, she had to balance a number of additional obligations.
“Being a Black woman from Africa, I still have to go home. Cook, clean be a wife, take care of my children. I have all of those responsibilities,” she said. Despite the challenges, however, Darko said she’s proud of writing her name in the school’s history books.
“This is bigger than me. This is not just about me. This is about representing my community,” Darko said.
According to KUTV, the dental program at the institution has only been in operation for around ten years. Although the majority of the dental school’s students are White, a spokeswoman for the institution told the news source that initiatives are being taken to attract students of color to apply.
“Apply. Come. Come. Just because Dentistry has been a traditionally white profession in the state of Utah for so many years, doesn’t mean that the profession is closed to anyone else,” Dr. Bart Watts, who is with the University of Utah School of Dentistry, also said.
Darko, after gaining admission to U’s School of Dentistry, decided to involve herself in an initiative aimed at paying homage to diversity at the school by setting up an art display, highlighting the artistic prowess of her colleague students and faculty.
“When I interviewed her I realized what a remarkable young woman that I was interviewing,” Dr. Bart Watts said, adding that Darko’s art display program also impressed him.
“We work with students on hand skills. Learning how to work on teeth, be good providers. And we forget that translates into other types of visual art as well,” Dr. Watts said.