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Dental student Jennifer Tang receives Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award

Fourth-year dental student Jennifer Tang has been selected as the School of Dentistry’s 2024 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award.

Tang accepts her Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service award at the celebration event.
Tang accepts her Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service award at the celebration event.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, the annual award is given out to a member, or members, of each of the six UW health sciences schools, UW Medical Center, UW Primary Care, Valley Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, who have dedicated themselves to lives of service, justice, and equity. A single Distinguished Service Award is also given out to a member of the greater community.

Tang was selected by the School of Dentistry because of her commitment to creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, valued, and respected. Her extensive work addressing the oral health needs of underserved communities includes serving as a dental hygienist at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and the Seattle Center Foundation’s Annual Seattle/King County Clinic.

While the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award is typically awarded to faculty or staff, Tang is one of only two undergraduate students (Brian Cedeño, School of Medicine) to receive the award this year.

“I am honored to have received this award as a student,” said Tang. “This award reminds me that students can make an impact on our community by participating in various outreach opportunities at our school. I hope to encourage students to take time to learn about the needs of diverse communities and how they can address these needs as students and future dentists.”

As a dental student, Tang currently serves as co-president of Husky Health Bridge, a student-led organization with the mission of providing poor and underserved communities with access to comprehensive healthcare through interprofessional relief efforts, education, and advocacy. The organization focuses on serving Afghan refugees, survivors of sexual assault and community elders, said Tang.

The awardees were recognized at the UW Medicine and UW Health Sciences 25th MLK Jr. Celebration event on Thursday, Jan. 11. The theme of this year’s celebration was “Building Bridges: 25 Years of Connection, Community and Love”. The event also featured musical performances and a “Fireside chat discussion” on “Health Equity and Anti-Racism: inspiring positive change, accountability, and equity for all”.

Tang, who was also chosen as a member of the 2023 Husky 100 cohort, will continue to focus on her service outreach while forging ahead towards her graduation this Spring.

“This award has encouraged me to continue pursuing my passion for community service,” said Tang. “I plan to continue learning about how I can create a positive impact on my community.”