UW School of Dentistry

Student earns honors for homeless outreach efforts

Fourth-year student David Ludwig’s volunteer efforts on behalf of homeless people in Seattle have earned him a national student leadership award from the American Dental Association (ADA).

David Ludwig and Jackie Wong check a patient’s X-rays at the Union Gospel Mission dental clinic.
David Ludwig and Jackie Wong check a patient’s X-rays at the Union Gospel Mission dental clinic.

Ludwig, who is president of the Class of 2015, received the ADA’s E. “Bud” Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award for his leading role in the UW HOPE outreach to the homeless. The School of Dentistry volunteer program began about five years ago and now includes activities at the Union Gospel Mission and Casa Latina in Seattle and the Safe Harbor Free Medical Clinic in Mount Vernon .

In his second year of dental school, Ludwig started a Health and Homelessness elective course and, with classmate Jackie Wong, led the effort to enlist dental students for Teeth and Toes. This collaboration with University of Washington nursing and medical students has sent volunteers into the community to conduct foot and oral health screenings among the homeless and issue referrals for follow-up care.

Ludwig and Wong have also been active student leaders in Seattle’s annual  One Night Count of the homeless population.

“David’s role was being a leader in pulling in fellow students to volunteer in these various outreach programs and bring community partners, including health care providers, organizers, shelter and homeless service directors and others who focused on homelessness issues, to come discuss issues concerning the homeless in the Health and Homelessness course,” said Dr. Bea Gandara, who oversees many of the school’s student volunteer programs. She is faculty preceptor for the Health and Homelessness course.

“David and Jackie have engaged, educated and led their dental student and other health professional student colleagues in building a strong foundation for continued growth and development of the UW HOPE program,” she said.

“Not only is David an outstanding student, but he embodies a value that we hope all our students absorb while they’re here – giving something back to the community,” said Dean Joel Berg. “We’re proud of David, Jackie and all the other students who embrace this value.”

Early this year, Ludwig also received the UW Health Sciences Volunteer Recognition award for his efforts.