Sitting down today to write this week’s blog to feature another inspirational woman in dentistry, makes me so excited! To be able to help, promote and inspire others through other people’s journey is such a gift.
This week’s Wonder Woman is Martelle Coke. She is one of the many new friends that I have made and developed a bond with so quickly this past year. From the moment I saw her BrownGirl, RDH post on Facebook, I just knew we would become friends and that I wanted to help and team up with her in some way. At the time, I didn’t know what that would entail, but as soon as I met her I knew we had a connection that we were going to do great things together. I am honored to showcase Martelle today.
Here is her story,
“My driving force behind being a Wonder Woman in Dentistry is having the ability to create change by leading others. A little over two years ago, I established BrownGirl, RDH, a non profit organization focused on awarding scholarships to dental hygiene students. The scholarships awarded cover the unexpected non-tuition costs of dental hygiene school. Scholarships range from dental loupes to clinical board fees.
The mission of BrownGirl, RDH is to shift the mindset about those who are and can be employed in the dental hygiene field. To remove cultural and economic barriers to joining the dental hygiene workforce, establish and promote pathways to dental hygiene careers.
The organization was created to support all students in need, regardless of race or gender. We have been very successful In helping students find resources to help with the costs of hygiene school.
Establishing BrownGirl, RDH and being a representation for diversity in dental hygiene is one of the wonders I am most proud about. Not only am I brave enough to think that I can create change, but bold enough to actually get the dental community to believe in the change. My future goal will be to extend our scholarships into other allied health fields such as nursing, radiology and physical therapy.
I faced many adversities growing up: my family was poor and we grew up in a drug community with nine other siblings and a traumatic childhood of verbal and physical abuse. I finished high school and had plans of college until I became a teen mom. I decided to put college on hold until after the baby was born. My plan was to enroll at a university once the baby was born, knowing that the lack of education and teen pregnancy could keep me in poverty.
I finished all the pre-required classes and applied for dental hygiene school. I was excited to receive my acceptance and orientation letter until I was bombarded with the cost of supplies my heart sank, knowing that I could not afford to attend with a young child and no support. I felt defeated, and decided I wouldn’t go to dental hygiene school. I started discussing with a friend, when she told me about student loans as a resource which I used for support to get through it.
Six years later I decided to pursue dental school. I started to take the pre-requisites while practicing as a dental hygienist in November 2017, when I received the news from my younger brother Ralphy whom I raised, that our five- month old nephew Rafeek was killed, and his siblings were going to be removed from my brothers home and placed in foster care.
I decided to put my goals of pursuing dental school on hold to care for my niece and nephew to prevent that from happening. At this time I had five kids to raise, three children of my own, and two of my brothers. With no help or resources, I felt defeated again because I started to reflect on this life and the cycle of history that had repeated itself. This was the exact feeling that I had as a young girl wanting to pursue dental hygiene school, and the obstacles with dental hygiene school, all stemming from lack of support.
Exactly one year after my nephew passed my brother Ralphy was killed. The support and community of BrownGirl,RDH got me through this tragic time. One of the adversities with creating an opportunity for others that encompasses my heart and who I am, is in the name “BrownGirl”. The name of my organization alone has been the greatest challenge. The negative pushback of others who can not see past the name, and choose not to support the mission regardless of the mission and our inclusiveness is my greatest hurdle.
BrownGirl, RDH is a community that inspires, connects and supports and I am proud of the support given and received. The custom woman in dentistry necklace that Original Fashion Trends custom made for BrownGirl, RDH is a reminder that I will always face challenges, but I need to stay true to who I am to get through them.”
Here is the custom 14 KT gold signature necklace that was made exclusively for BrownGirl, RDH. I (Original Fashion Trends) am very happy and honored to have had the opportunity to produce this custom adorable logo necklace that represents BrownGirl, RDH.
The “Woman of Dentistry” is the name of this piece. It is offered in 14 KT Yellow Gold and Sterling Silver.925. Special order in 14 KT White Gold.
You can purchase it through the the Original Fashion Trends website.
Please help and support BrownGirl, RDH. A portion of the proceeds from each necklace purchased will help raise money towards her scholarships funds.
A great gift for any occasion for women in dentistry.
You can reach Martelle Coke and BrownGirl, RDH
Written by: Tami O’Connell
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