UNCP inks academic pathway with ECU School of Dental Medicine

ECU signing
ECU Chancellor Phillip Rogers (seated left) and UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings signed an Early Assurance Agreement (EAA) between UNCP and ECU School of Dental Medicine

UNC Pembroke has signed an early assurance agreement with East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine.

The unique agreement guarantees admission of UNCP students into the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Doctor of Dental Medicine program upon meeting specific criteria and requirements. Beginning in fall 2024, one of the 52 seats in the SoDM will be reserved three years in advance for outstanding students entering UNCP as first-year students.

“This is a special day,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers. “A day where we get to see the UNC System at its best, doing exactly what it is built to do, which is leveraging the very best assets of its constituent institutions coming together to discover, to create, to transmit and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and to address, most importantly, the needs of society.”

Rogers spoke during a signing ceremony at ECU last week and was joined by leaders from both institutions, local and state government leaders, current students and alumni of both institutions, including Maya Grimes, a 2022 UNCP graduate who completed her first year of dental school on Friday.

“I am really excited about this partnership,” Grimes said. “When I was an undergrad, I had classes with Yaqot Nasser, who was in the early assurance program at Brody, and I wished there was something for pre-dental students. Trying to pursue a post-doctoral program and being in a rural area and feeling like you don’t have adequate resources to get there can be overwhelming. So, this partnership will give many students inspiration and confidence.”

Over the years, UNCP has established academic pathways with many highly regarded programs in the UNC System and other institutions nationwide to serve rural North Carolina through educational access.

The ECU dental school partnership is the latest growing list of academic pathways UNCP has in place with other programs, including pathways to ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, UNC Chapel Hill's School of Pharmacy, Methodist University’s Physician Assistant Program, and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University.  

During his remarks, UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said while the spirit of collaboration was on display during the ceremony, ultimately, “this is about the success of our students––students who will have an expanded opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“At UNCP, we want our students to understand no matter where you want to go in life, you can get there from UNC Pembroke,” Cummings said. “And as many of our students at Pembroke come from the southeastern region and return to the area to practice—this agreement, like the Brody Scholar agreement, has the potential to create real change in rural North Carolina,” Cummings added.

Cummings said he believes this partnership will promote additional interest in a career in dentistry through ECU while addressing the region’s health care workforce needs.

During the ceremony, current ECU students and dentists with local ties spoke about how both institutions have impacted their academic and professional careers.   

Dr. Kennedi Stewart Henry, a UNCP and ECU dental school graduate, thanked her former professors for encouraging her as a shy undergraduate student 10 years ago.

“My time at UNCP shaped me into who I am today,” Henry said. “When I was a UNCP student, I wasn’t confident that I could achieve the goals I wanted to achieve, but my professors and my advisors saw my potential. I am so grateful for my journey. I believe this agreement will offer the same journey to other UNCP students.”