Alumnas’ Gift Inspired by Women Mentors

From left, Drs. Miriam Furlong and Elisa Valzequez

Drs. Miriam Furlong and Elisa Velazquez were RSDM students in the 1990s, when the great majority of faculty were men. For them, female faculty were a vital source of support and mentorship.

“All of our female instructors were very inspiring to us,’’ said Dr. Furlong.

After finding success with their own practices, the two hope to offer support to present-day RSDM students. That’s why they endowed a scholarship as part of the Chancellor’s Challenge Scholarship Match.

It’s their hope that the Elisa J. Velazquez and Miriam T. Furlong, DMD Endowed Scholarship can be awarded to a student who is interested in pursuing pediatric dentistry and has been active in organized dentistry. Both alumna want to encourage women and other students from underrepresented groups to assume leadership roles. “It’s important that the become leaders so they have a voice,’’ said Dr. Furlong.

She graduated from RSDM in 1995 and went on to pursue her certificate in orthodontics . Dr. Velazquez, who graduated in 1999, trained to become a pediatric dentist. The two work together at Ocean Pediatric Dental Associates, Dr. Velazquez’s practice, which has three offices in Ocean County. Dr. Furlong works weekly hours there as an orthodontist, in addition to her own practice, Jackson Orthodontics in the town of Jackson.

At Dr. Velazquez’s practice, special care dentistry is a focus. She is proud to call Ocean Pediatric Dental “the premier practice” for area children with special needs and credits her training at RSDM’s special care center with teaching her how to treat children with disabilities.

Said Dr. Velazquez, “I’m proud of all the things I see RSDM doing and I want to directly support an individual student through this endowment. Dental school and loan repayments can be daunting, and as an alumna who had many loans to fund my education, I want to give back. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to help the next generation of dentists.”