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Student travels to Panama to give back

Lending a helping hand and sharing knowledge are important to Kansas State University senior in biology and pre-dentistry, Eduardo Acosta. Acosta spent his summer living out these ideals by working to improve the dental health of children in Panama.

Acosta participated in a two-week summer dental mission trip to rural Panama, where he served as a dental assistant and helped children with their dental hygiene. Acosta was inspired by his own life events to participate in the trip.

“Growing up, my family and I went through a lot of financial struggles,” said Acosta. “We lived in a tiny town in Mexico where many people lived in poverty and jobs were hard to come by. There were times when things such as health care were just not affordable. My parents made the decision to immigrate to the United States in search of financial stability and a better future for us. Since the time we arrived in this country, we've received a tremendous amount of help.”

Acosta and his group focused on providing their services to children because they are in the greatest need of dentistry in developing countries. The team provided prevention and public health dentistry services, as well as diagnosing and treating those who needed immediate treatment.

The mission's educational focus meant the most to him, Acosta said. He and his group taught local residents how to brush and floss and gave presentations on the effects of not maintaining proper oral health.

"It does no good to treat patients if we don't show them how to maintain their dental health; it defeats the purpose of our visit," said Acosta. "Being pre-dental students, our duties were to instruct kids on how to maintain their oral health."

As a participant in the Developing Scholars Program, Acosta is grateful for all the support he has received here at K-State. "Developing Scholars has given me the necessary tools to go forward with this opportunity and to network with other students with interests similar to mine," Acosta said. "The program also has contributed tremendously in my preparation for professional school."

The bold vision for K-State to become a top 50 public research university by 2025 requires determined students like Acosta. Continued support of students like Acosta not only allows these students to achieve their full potential, but also perpetuates a circle of giving.

“All the help that I've received to get to where I am now, along with having experienced what it’s like to be in need, have inspired me to give a helping hand to those who are in the position I was once in.”

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