Since the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum this summer, student Imani Behrens has led the conversation at the School of Dental Medicine. As president of the university’s chapter of the Student National Dental Association, a historically Black dental organization, she was instrumental in organizing a school-wide forum to discuss racial injustice and the impact it has in the health care field. Following that event, she and the Class of 2022 Student Council have continued to hold weekly discussions on these topics.
“Many communities of different races and backgrounds face significant health adversities and limitations, all stemming from systemic injustice,” Behrens said. “By taking action and taking the time to become aware of the various cultures’s history and persisting disadvantages in our country today, the better we will be equipped to lessen the gap in care we provide.”
To further the conversations, Behrens helped create the Cultural Diversity Roundtable, which engages the leaders of each cultural group on campus to address injustices and support a better learning environment for all.
Behrens, a third-year dental student, has a number of other leadership roles at the school, including serving as vice president of the Class of 2022 Student Council and the pre-dental chair, through which she supports students interested in pursuing careers in dentistry. In that role, she has made it a priority to help recruit Black pre-dental students to improve their representation at the school.
Though Behrens initially came to Case Western Reserve as an undergraduate pursuing a pre-med track, discussions with leaders at the School of Dental Medicine inspired her to change her career path—“I wanted to go into dental medicine to be able to instill confidence in people by fixing their smiles.”