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MSCM Student Raquel Mobley Prepares for Dental School and Celebrates Her Journey in KGI’s Inaugural Program

Raquel Mobley, an upcoming graduate in the first cohort of Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s inaugural Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM) program, has recently committed to Loma Linda University (LLU)’s School of Dentistry—one of three dental schools she was accepted to.

Mobley, who majored in biology at the University of LaVerne and did her senior thesis on oral health, has long been working toward becoming a dentist. After she was waitlisted at one of the dental schools she applied to, she took the opportunity to pursue her master’s at KGI.

“I am very grateful for this detour because I’ve learned so much in this program,” Mobley, MSCM ’23, said. “I feel like it’s really going to help me become a more comprehensive dentist and to consider many more aspects of healthcare such as community work and healthcare ventures. It’s very exciting to have this background knowledge going into dental school along with all the skills I’ve learned.”

Participating in a new program—and thus having the opportunity to provide feedback—has been a valuable learning experience that she feels translates directly to her future endeavors.

“Process improvements along with feedback cycles and iterations were actually a part of our curriculum that we then got to apply to the program itself in real time,” Mobley said.

Now she is applying these skills in her capstone project, where she and a classmate are working with the Claremont Colleges Health Education Outreach Center to identify gaps in their services, make recommendations, and implement an Oral Health Initiative.

“They offered resources on sexual health as well as general health information for college students, but there was nothing about oral or dental health,” Mobley said. “So my partner and I created a program to promote oral health within the center and train the Peer Health Educators to teach the oral health curriculum. Having them on board as well as the supervisor has really helped.”

They will be wrapping up the project by the end of the semester.

“It’s going to be really cool to have a final product from our master’s program,” Mobley said.

The MSCM program has always been virtual, but based on student feedback this school year, it switched from a synchronous to an asynchronous schedule. This means that rather than attending online lectures on a set day and time each week, students can watch recordings of the lectures on their own time. 

While Mobley feels that both types of schedules have advantages and disadvantages, she appreciates that the new structure has pushed her to be more disciplined.

“I have to make a commitment to show up to the professors’ office hours, discuss any topics I am struggling with, and ask specific questions,” Mobley said. “It makes the learning process a lot more involved. This type of learning is not for everyone, but it will definitely benefit you as long as you put in the effort and have clear goals for what you want out of the program.”

Her experience in the program has spurred Mobley’s interest in working with underserved communities. People of color, low-income families, and those living in rural areas face some of the most significant barriers to receiving proper dental care. Many insurance plans do not even cover dental care.

Mobley believes that dental therapists—mid-level practitioners who provide preventive and routine restorative care, including filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and extracting diseased or loose teeth—can help to bridge the gap. This is an emerging field in dentistry and has not yet been adopted in every state.

“It’s a debate, honestly, and not everyone agrees with it,” Mobley said.

“Expanding access to dental care and enabling underserved communities to have better health outcomes is most important.”

Mobley holds a range of diverse interests beyond dentistry. Combining her passions for biology and the environment, she did an ​​internship in Hawaii which involved identifying plant species and led to the publication of her work in a trail guide. Currently, she works as an environmental chemist.

This diversity is a quality she sees in her cohort and KGI faculty.

“You can see the diversity reflected in our capstone projects,” Mobley said. “It’s really cool to see everybody contributing to areas they’re passionate about. What I love about this program is meeting so many interesting, passionate people that I can really connect with. The faculty and staff have been amazing as well. They have so much experience, and I love learning from them.”

As she approaches graduation and prepares to embark on the next phase of her journey in dental school, Mobley wants to highlight her cohort.

“We’ve accomplished so much together,” Mobley said. “Our bond has been really strong, and I have appreciated working with every one of them. It’s definitely been hard work, but it’ll be so rewarding in the end. It’s been a great ride being part of the inaugural cohort and welcoming in the second cohort. I just really love the community within the Community Medicine program.”