In high school, Brent Mullen knew dentistry would be his calling, but come graduation, there was another calling he would need to fulfill first; serving in the U.S. Army. After completing a tour in Iraq, the first-generation, non-traditional student got his undergraduate degree and set his sights on Tufts, seeing it as an extension of the service he set out to do in the Army. “What attracted me to Tufts was that it wasn’t just about teaching you to be a dentist in a private practice. It teaches you how to serve your community.”
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?
It means seeing everyone as a person and not a characteristic. Serving in the Army, it is very diverse, and when you look at the soldier next to you, you are one; one unit, one platoon. Our differences are not meant to keep people from working together, studying together, collaborating together. We may all have different backgrounds, but that is important, because we all have something to contribute.
Why are diversity and inclusion important at Tufts?
The dental school is one of the most diverse dental programs in America, and its location in Boston gives it a unique position, pulling in a patient pool of people from all over the world. The exposure we get is just amazing. Having that experience is important to me, as I am on an Army scholarship, so I will be headed back to the Army after graduation and will be treating army patients from all different backgrounds, as well as participating in humanitarian trips all around the world in rough areas who still need treatment, regardless the environment they live in.
Through the dental program, I have had the opportunity to meet and make friends with people from all over the world. These friendships I am building here, 50 years from now, I will still be in contact with them. We are building friendships for a lifetime and getting to experience and learn about their cultures, which is just neat.
How are you involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives/programming/research at Tufts?
TUSDM has a whole department dedicated to community service. It’s a really awesome environment Tufts provides, allowing you to take ideas and turn them into actual impact in the community. I participate in a number of different organizations through TUSDM, including serving as co-president of the Health Professions Scholarship Program for all the military scholarship students. We take students who live in Boston proper and bring them out to communities like Roxbury, Jamaica Plains, Mattapan, hoping to help lead the change in these communities, letting those who haven’t served in the military get the experience of what it is like to serve and show pride in serving a community and see how their patients live and what their lives are like.