Caring for every community
Community is everything to Cynthia Duta-Llangari, DDS ’24. It has impacted every aspect of her life, from her memories of childhood to her decision to pursue dentistry—and it has informed every step of her way at the University of Minnesota.
Born in Minnesota and raised in Ecuador, Duta-Llangari grew up volunteering to make her community and others a better place to live. She joined fundraising drives in Ecuador, helped Thai refugees in Tennessee and served at Hope Dental Clinic in Minnesota. Those experiences solidified her desire to help others.
“I wanted to give much more,” she said. “I became a dentist for my Ecuadorian community. I found dentistry to be a direct interaction with every member of a community.”
Still, the desire to become a dentist saw challenges in terms of location and finances. “Being from a low-income community, finance is a difficult topic in everyday life,” she explained. Moreover, she wanted to stay close to her family in Minnesota.
Receiving two scholarships, the Isaacson Family Scholarship and the Dental School Scholarship, made the decision to attend the School of Dentistry much easier. Founded in 2019, the John Richard Isaacson Family Scholarship provides funds to an incoming DDS student and a currently-enrolled student, each from Minnesota, South Dakota or North Dakota. The Dental School Scholarship provides awards to School of Dentistry students. Support for this fund has continued to rise through the 1000 x $1000 campaign.
“It was a true blessing to be awarded two scholarships,” Duta-Llangari said. “Being a Hispanic woman, I represent my community and want to be an example that it is possible to reach higher and go further.”
Now in her third year of dental school, Duta-Llangari is reaching those new heights. She has begun seeing patients and loves building relationships with them. She appreciates the diversity of the School of Dentistry, in students, patients and faculty. “I am meeting people all over the world,” she said. “I love the diversity, and I feel integrated into this school.”
As she moves forward, Duta-Llangari hopes to open her own practice and continue serving her community, through volunteering and through her patient base. She will be able to give back freely thanks to the financial assistance she has received.
“Having these scholarships brings peace of mind into attending school and knowing I can do so much more,” she said. “It is a representation of how other people value my hard work and passion for this career.”