Smith receives rural dentist scholarship

First year dental student, Marissa Westrope Smith of Wesson, a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and a graduate of Mississippi College, was recently awarded the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship valued at $35,000 per year for her dental training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry at the annual scholarship ceremony. She is the daughter of Elbert and Gina Westrope of Wesson.

Created in 2013, the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program (MRDSP) is designed to provide more general and pediatric dentists in rural areas of Mississippi.  During dental school, each MRDSP scholar receives $35,000 per year based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of MRDSP translates to 9 dental students receiving a total of $315,000 to support their education this fall. Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural dentists and academic support. 

Upon completion of dental training, MRDSP scholars must practice general or pediatric dentistry. The MRDSP Scholar must provide the number of years the scholarship was received of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of less than 10,000 population where a need exists.

MRDSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a $140,000 over four years of dental school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of oral care from practicing rural dentists.

For more information, contact MRDSP Associate Director Dan Coleman at 601-815-9022, or

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program are state-funded efforts to increase the number of physicians and dentists serving the health-care needs of Mississippians in rural areas. Housed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and collaborating with its schools of medicine and dentistry and the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, the programs use various outreach, mentoring and training methods to identify, support, educate and deploy new generations of health-care workers for Mississippi’s underserved populations. To learn more about either program, click here.