Alumni donors bring much-needed perks to SODPublished on Monday, October 11, 2021By: Ruth CumminsFourth-year students in the School of Dentistry on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus started their final stretch with not just a creature comfort, but also a convenient organizational tool: new lockers.They’re being provided through the generous efforts of dentists and supporters throughout Mississippi, most of them School of Dentistry graduates. For a minimum $1,000 donation, a supporter can sponsor the purchase of a locker and placement of a nameplate on it to commemorate their philanthropy.Those friends include Gulfport dentists Dr. Terri Jones, Class of 1983. Jones sponsored a locker in honor of each associate in the practice she owns, Hillcrest Dental Group in Gulfport. Her associates are Dr. Scarlett Johnson, Class of 2020; Dr. Brittany Varney, Class of 2017; and Dr. Barry Nguyen, Class of 2017.Alums and supporters of the School of Dentistry are donating a minimum $1,000 to provide a locker for use by students, beginning with those in their fourth year. A plaque on each locker bears a donor's name and graduation year, or other requested information.“Dr. Jones is the definition of a giving and dedicated dentist to her patients and dental team,” Johnson said. “When the opportunity came for alumni to donate for the lockers, she immediately wanted to contribute to the dental students.“She asked if she could donate several lockers, one for each of the associates at Hillcrest Dental Group. This is an incredible gesture to support our future dental colleagues.”“I was so happy to have the opportunity to donate to the dental school,” Jones said. “I have had a wonderful career and am so grateful for the education I received. I bought a locker in each of (her three associates) names as a thank you to the school, and as a unique way to gift them for all the hard work and effort they bring to caring for all of our patients.’KokaThe initiative “is an excellent example of how our generous donors are meeting immediate needs for our students,” said Dr. Sreenivas Koka, dean of the School of Dentistry and a professor in the Department of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences. “When we saw the lockers being installed, we were so excited to find out they were for us,” said Jordan Boone, a fourth-year dental student from Columbus. “It will be so nice to have a larger locker on our main clinic floor right outside the lab so that we can store our patients’ models and paperwork for easy access.”Begun with an initial 44 lockers, the fund drive hopes to cover new lockers for the entire 195-student school, which includes 40 fourth-year dental students and 37 dental hygiene students. The lockers are located next to the Clinical Support Restorative Laboratory.“We are thankful for the donations that made this happen,” said Dr. Sheila Henderson, major gifts officer in the Medical Center’s Office of Development. “We’d like to finish this out for the rest of our students so that everyone will have a place to put their equipment and supplies.”The initial lockers are in a fourth-floor location that makes them easy to use as students travel throughout the school. They feature electronic locks that allow student to set their own combination, meaning they don’t have to supply their own locks, keep up keys or remember a random combination.Alums and friends of the School of Dentistry are being honored with plaques on lockers that their donations make possible.“The new lockers will provide convenient storage, near our clinics and lab, for materials the students use for patient treatment,” said Steven Moseley, the school’s director of dental ambulatory operations. “It’s great that the donors remember what it was like when they were in school and now want to make things better for today’s students.”Jones remembers. “I hope everyone enjoys the new lockers,” she said.To sponsor a locker, make checks payable to UMMC Fund/SOD and mail to University of Mississippi Medical Center, Attn: Development Accounting, 2500 N. State Street, Jackson, MS 39216. Include how you’d like your plaque or plaques to read. Or, go online to donate at umc.edu/SOD-give.