Last weekend, another black woman made history, and we could not be more excited about it.
Tera Poole graduated from the University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry as the 2016 class valedictorian. She was the first Black person to ever do it. That particular school of dentistry also happens to be the oldest dental school in America. The school was chartered in 1840, and it would appear that it took 176 years for a black graduate to leave the school at the top.
When speaking to ESSENCE, Poole expressed her warm and starstruck emotions. “It still hasn’t sunk in fully, but it started to when I realized how big of a deal it was becoming. And how people saw [my story] as an inspiration.”
Poole, who hails from Cincinnati, found out that she was the valedictorian just minutes before she gave her graduation speech as the class president, of which she held the position for four years. However, her own curiosity lead her to do some more research which confirmed that she had also made Black history two days later.
So what is next for the first Black valedictorian of the oldest dentistry school in America?
Poole plans to move to across the country to complete a three-year residency program in orthodontics at the University of California San Francisco. One of the most important things that she wants people interested in healthcare to know is that her historical achievement is possible.
“If you know you want to specialize, you kind of have to pay attention to the small details and stay on top of things because your life as an “applicant” isn’t over,” she advises. “You are going to have to apply again and it’s competitive.”
(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tera Poole)