Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS), a program founded by Christina Rosenthal, DDS, MPH, a graduate of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, was featured Wednesday on Good Morning America in a live segment on the UTHSC campus.
The segment on ABC centered around Dr. Quodarrius Toney, also known as Dr. Q, a cosmetic dentist who was in the inaugural DDS cohort in 2012. In celebration of Black History Month, the show highlighted Dr. Toney’s dedication to inspiring Black youth to become medical professionals through his work with the DDS program and on TikTok, where his videos have amassed more than 4.5 million likes.
“This means so much to me, because it is a full-circle moment,” Dr. Toney said. “I was in this program over 10 years ago, and I’m so grateful to UTHSC, to Determined to be a Doctor Someday, and I’m grateful to be able to help people in the community.”
UTHSC has supported the DDS program since it began. Dr. Rosenthal started the program to expose young people, primarily from historically marginalized populations and rural or low-income communities in the Mid-South, to career options in the health care field in a transparent, fun, and engaging format. UTHSC alumni and faculty often speak to the participants about their experiences and provide mentorship to them.
DDS participants of all ages, Dr. Toney’s family, and other supporters surrounded Drs. Toney and Rosenthal during the live interview. The crowd cheered, and Dr. Rosenthal teared up, as Good Morning America correspondent Alex Perez presented two checks for the DDS program. Dr. Toney’s Art of Aesthetics Community Foundation donated $8,000, and Good Morning America sponsor, Waterpik, donated $10,000 to help the program continue its mission.
Dr. Rosenthal said she was overwhelmed by the gifts and the support. “You do work, not because you want accolades or recognition, but because your heart is in it, so to see the work be rewarded and to see the difference that it’s making means more than I can put into words,” she said.
The money will go toward scholarships for the program’s participants and toward developing more programming. Dr. Rosenthal said receiving this gift from a former DDS participant makes it even more special. “It’s truly a dream,” she said. “No one does work for naught – you want to see the fruit of the seeds that you planted. To see that Dr. Q is now a dentist, that he’s successful, and it all started here at UTHSC, it’s an amazing feeling.”
“This is what’s supposed to happen,” Dr. Toney said. “There are going to be people who come after me, and I want them to see that, when they make it or even when they’re on the road to their career, they need to take time to sit back and pay it forward.”
The 2023 DDS cohort consists of 30 children aged 2 to 5 and 49 teenagers aged 14 to 18. The program kicked off Saturday, February 18, and sessions will take place on the UTHSC campus each month through June. Application information for the 2024 DDS cohort will be available in the fall. Parents who want to get their child involved in the future can visit the DDS website or social media pages, or email email@example.com.