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The Positive Influence of Mentors

Imma with patient

My name is Immaculate Achieng’ Opondo, from Kisumu County, which is in the Western part of Kenya. I am a Pediatric Dentist working with Maseno University School of Medicine. I love working with children and I am passionate about Pediatric Dentistry. This passion began early in my career when I developed a desire to help children with dental problems, after I realised some reluctance by colleagues to treat them due to their behavioral issues. During this period of interest, I noticed that the children had high levels of dental caries, and I immediately started outreach activities in nursery schools. With time, I got motivated to enhance my skills which pushed me to the next level of master’s training in Pediatric Dentistry.

Imma with group of students

Poster replicaThe decision to further my education opened a new window of opportunities for me. It is during this period that I appreciated the importance of research and the impact of HIV/AIDS on oral health. By taking care of HIV infected children, I began to understand the health, social and economic struggles associated with HIV infection. It is also during this time that I met Dr. Arthur Kemoli (University of Nairobi).  Through him and Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario (University of Washington), I   received funding from International Association for Dental Research (IADR) that enabled me to attend the Summer Institute in Clinical Dental Research in the University of Washington.  This was a wonderful opportunity which not only whet my appetite for research, but also exposed me to a new mentor, Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario.  Immediately after I got home from the Summer Institute, I was able to write a research proposal, get ethical review and start data collection on oral health status of under five-year-old children in Kisumu County primary schools. Unfortunately, this activity was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to continuing with data collection once the disease is controlled.

Ana Lucia Seminario and Arthur Kemoli have continuously encouraged me to pursue my research goals. Now, I am working alongside them as they guide me through grant writing and research work. I am hopeful that with this kind of exposure, I will continue growing my research skills to the point of being a mentor to other upcoming oral health researchers.

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