Norma Wells, Associate Professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, who created the UW Oral Health Collaborative, was honored for her community service during the UW Health Sciences Center’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative program on Jan. 17.
Wells received a Community Volunteer Recognition Award, which is given each year to nominees from each of the Health Sciences schools. Her award cited the founding and development of the Oral Health Collaborative, which since 1995 has worked with community institutions to bring oral health screenings and education to thousands of Washington state residents. These have included the homeless, migrant families, recent immigrants and Native American children on tribal lands.
The daughter of one of the first teachers in the Head Start program, Wells also served in the Peace Corps and has conducted oral health outreach efforts in Canada, the Caribbean and Portugal.
“Professor Wells’ lifelong quest has been to use the practical application of science-based solutions to provide preventive oral health care to underserved communities of color and low-income communities,” her award citation said. “She has worked tirelessly to incorporate service learning in her teaching model while connecting communities in need with campus resources. … She is a champion of oral health as integral to the positive life experience of all individuals and communities.”
“Norma has done tremendous work over the years,” said Dean Joel Berg. “She has inspired many of our students and others to give something of real value back to the community we serve, and we could not be prouder of her.”