OKU Honor Society welcomes graduates, honor student and faculty
Six graduating students and two faculty members were inducted into the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Beta Eta Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society, and a third-year student received the William S. Kramer Award at the school’s annual OKU Induction Banquet and Convocation Ceremony on April 24, 2019.
Since its inception in 1914 at Northwestern University, OKU has been the premier, national honor society promoting the highest standards of dentistry and recognizing scholarship and character among alumni, faculty and honorary members. A total of 72 chapters have been chartered to date, and 59 chapters are presently active.
The following OKU inductees graduated from the ECU School of Dental Medicine on May 3, 2019: Dr. Luke Current, Dr. Raynald Desameau, Dr. Brett Leslie, Dr. Patrick Monahan, Jr., Dr. Bryson Rominger, and Dr. Morgan Stroud. Faculty inductees included Dr. Wanda Wright and Dr. David Taylor. Third-year student Payton Absher received the William S. Kramer Award.
William S. Kramer Award
Peyton Absher received the Beta Eta Chapter William S. Kramer Award of Excellence. The awardrecognizes a junior dental student at each chapter school, who has demonstrated scholarship, character, and the potential promise for the advancement of dentistry and service to humanity.
Ms. Absher is a third-year dental student originally from Ashe County, North Carolina. She graduated from NC State University in 2015, summa cum laudeand class valedictorian, with a bachelor of science degree in human biology. She has been inducted previously into Phi Beta Kapa, Phi Kappa Phi and Gamma Beta Phi honor societies. At the School of Dental Medicine, she has distinguished herself in scholarship and service. In 2017, she was selected as a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Albert Schweitzer Fellow in which she conducted a project called Green County Access Program or “GAP” that provides oral health and nutrition education and preventive counseling to children in nearby Greene County elementary schools. Since her second year, Ms. Absher has served as a laboratory tutor for other dental students in the preclinical setting with basic hand skills development. She has served as treasurer of the school’s student chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
About Alumni Inductees
Dr. Luke Currentgraduated with a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill. While an undergraduate, he investigated the viability of multipotent stem cells derived from alveolar bone and grown in different matrices. At the ECU School of Dental Medicine, he continued work as a student researcher investigating the effects of maternal exercise on childhood risk for dental caries and on tooth development. He was an active didactic tutor for fellow students and served as the student representative on the school’s Curriculum Committee. He also served as president of the Student Research Group. Dr. Current was the Beta Eta Chapter’s Kramer Award of Excellence recipient in 2018. He will soon begin a residency in pediatric dentistry at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
Dr. Raynald Desameauearned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor of science in chemistry from UNC Greensboro. He was active in Greek life on both campuses and a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. He also served as president and historian for the Black Student Movement – Cultural Diversity Subsection at UNC-CH. At the ECU School of Dental Medicine, he performed at a high level academically while remaining active in community service. He served as a didactic tutor for the biomedical sciences, treasurer for the school’s chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and as a member of the American Student Dental Association Predental Committee. Dr. Desameau plans to enter private practice in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
Dr. Brett Lesliegraduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor of arts in political science with highest distinction in 2014. At the ECU School of Dental Medicine, he defined himself as a scholar and leader. Since 2017, he served as class vice president and advocated for his fellow students on the Student and Resident Affairs Committee while supporting and planning class community service and social events. He served as a didactic tutor for the predoctoral dentistry program for three years. Dr. Leslie plans to enter private practice in Salisbury, N.C.
Dr. Thomas Patrick Monahan previously received two degrees from NC State University: a bachelor of science in polymer and color chemistry and a master of science in textile chemistry with a concentration in biomedical engineering. As a graduate student, Patrick worked with a design team of master’s students to fabricate prototypes of a novel medical-oral device to manage sleep apnea. At the ECU School of Dental Medicine, he balanced academics with active service and leadership. He served as a laboratory tutor for dental students. He also served as social coordinator for his class and as a student member of the school’s cultural and diversity team. He participated in many service events including the North Carolina Dental Society’s Missions of Mercy. Dr. Monahan will soon begin a one-year residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Bryson Romingergraduated summa cum laudefrom Wake Forest University with a bachelor of science in sociology and a minor in biology. At Wake Forest, he investigated dental access for Medicaid recipients across North Carolina. At the ECU School of Dental Medicine, he served as a tutor of biomedical sciences for other dental students. He was active on the school’s Burnisher’s Ball fundraiser committee, treasurer of the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association, and president of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Dr. Rominger plans to become an associate at Barker Family Dentistry in Hudson, N.C.
Dr. Morgan Stroud earned a bachelor of science in biology with a minor in chemistry as well as a Doctor of Pharmacy with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a practicing pharmacist from 2013 until she entered dental school in 2015. She was named a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina FoundationSchweitzer Fellow in 2017 and helped expand ECU’s Prenatal Oral Health Program. She served terms as vice president and president of the Class of 2019, and she participated in many service events including the North Carolina Dental Society’s Missions of Mercy. She also served as a didactic biomedical science tutor and led local “Girl Scout Career Day” events to attract the next generation of women dentists. Dr. Stroud will begin a one-year general practice residency (GPR) at MAHEC Family Health Center in Asheville, N.C.
Wanda Wright, RN, DDS, MS, MSD, assistant professor in the School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Foundational Sciences, began her professional training as a graduate of the Washington Hospital Center School of Nursing in Washington, DC. She earned a DDS degree from the University of Maryland, a master’s in health services administration from D‘Youville College, a dental public health masters and certificate from Boston University and a certificate in clinical research from Tufts University Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Wright has held previous faculty positions at the University of Buffalo, Boston University and Tufts University dental schools. She was recruited to the ECU School of Dental Medicine as an assistant professor in 2015. She directs the school’s Division of Public Health and the predoctoral Community Oral Health Practice course, which is a curriculum stream throughout the four years. Her research interests include access to care, cultural competency and student diversity and patient preventive services utilization. She is the recipient of East Carolina University’s 2018 Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award.
David Taylor, PhD, FCP, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the ECU Brody School of Medicine, has advanced dentistry and the ECU School of Dental Medicine through his scholarship and teaching. Dr. Taylor earned a bachelor of science in biology from Alderson-Broaddus College and a PhD in Pharmacology from West Virginia University. He was elected Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology in 2002. He has held previous faculty appointments at the University of Colorado and West Virginia University. He was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine in 2001. He is highly active in peer review and currently serves as associate editor for “Frontiers in Pharmacology-Integrative and Regenerative Pharmacology Section” and “Current Opinions in Pharmacology.” His research interests include neuropharmacology, “super-sensitivity” drug responses and morphine pharmacodynamics and anti-seizure drug development. He has mentored countless professional and graduate students and has been an active and contributing biomedical sciences instructor for the predoctoral dental program since the School of Dental Medicine admitted its first class in 2011. He is known for engaging students in learning and making subject matter relevant.