El Paso Orthodontist, Army Veteran Gives $25,000 for Hunt School of Dental Medicine Scholarships

 

Newswise — EL PASO, Texas — Jaime Rivera, D.M.D., has never shied away from a challenging task. To him, the end goal has always been his focus.

That determination has propelled him from humble beginnings to graduating from UCLA, enlisting in the Army and becoming an accomplished orthodontist. Now, as the owner of Rivera Orthodontics PLLC, Dr. Rivera wants to recognize hard-working dental students and help them reach their goals. To this end, he and his wife Karina Rivera have presented a $25,000 gift to the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.

“I understand the amount of time, effort and sacrifice these students are putting into their studies every day,” Dr. Rivera said. “If I can help ease any financial burdens – so students can focus their energy on their education and dedication to improving lives in our region – I know they and the El Paso community will be better for it.”

His generous contribution will go toward the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s Scholarship Fund to support students who aspire to become the next generation of leaders in oral health care. In appreciation of Dr. Rivera and Karina, an oral surgery medical suite at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic has been named in the Rivera family’s honor.

During a ceremony on Monday, dental student Jeremy Masten spoke on behalf of the inaugural class, thanking Dr. Rivera. As a former Marine Corps combat engineering officer, Masten said he appreciates the determination Dr. Rivera has shown throughout his career. Masten added that both Dr. Rivera and Karina are inspirations for himself and his wife, who have three children.

“With the support of his wife, Karina, Dr. Rivera’s example of leadership and service is appreciated by the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and El Paso community,” Masten said. “All this highlights Dr. Rivera’s commitment to excellence and giving nature when it comes to improving the lives of others. Not only is he helping to make all of this – our education and training – possible, he’s enhancing it.”

Dr. Rivera was born in Colima, Mexico, and later moved to California with his family. He and his parents and four brothers lived in a one-bedroom home. With the help of a loving and supporting family, he realized his college dreams and was accepted to Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.

It was during his second year of dental school that he enlisted in the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Bliss, he fell in love with El Paso. He deployed to Iraq, where he provided dental care for all military branches and even detainees at Camp Bucca in Al Basra, Iraq. Following his military service, Dr. Rivera completed his orthodontic residency in San Antonio, then moved his family to El Paso in 2013.

“You cannot talk about Dr. Jaime Rivera without speaking of the virtues of hard work and service to our country,” said Hunt School of Dental Medicine Dean Richard Black, D.D.S., M.S. “He’s a shining example of both. We’re proud to have him as a community partner of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and grateful for his family’s generosity and support of the students who will follow in his footsteps.”

El Paso is now home for the Rivera family. Karina is the executive office manager of Rivera Orthodontics at both El Paso locations. Together the couple has worked tirelessly to raise three children and grow their business through the years.

As a dentofacial orthopedics specialist and one of four board certified orthodontists in El Paso, Dr. Rivera has positively affected the lives of his patients through his professional work and sincere care for their dental health. 

“I strive to make a difference for my patients, and when I can do that, it’s the best part of my day,” Dr. Rivera said. “When we can help an individual change the perception of themselves, it really changes their life. It’s a rewarding thing to witness, and I love that part of the job.”

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine opened in 2021 and is housed in Medical Sciences Building II, a new building on the TTUHSC El Paso campus where students train in the school’s Dental Learning Center. The center features 80 stations equipped with high-tech simulation manikins and a fabrication laboratory where students craft dental appliances using 3D scanners and advanced CAD/CAM machines. This state-of-the-art facility allows students to practice modern dentistry for 2025 and beyond.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine offers the most innovative curriculum in the country, just as the Foster School of Medicine did when it was established more than 10 years ago. Students are educated through culturally competent, hands-on training and an introduction to early clinical experiences among a diverse population. As part of curriculum requirements, dental students learn medical Spanish, allowing them to bridge language and cultural barriers to deliver the highest quality of oral health care.

A first for any dental school in the nation, Hunt School of Dental Medicine students begin clinical training and patient interaction during their first semester at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. The 38,000 square-foot public dental clinic is part of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s efforts to improve the accessibility of oral health care in the community by offering reduced-cost dental care. The clinic comes equipped with 145 treatment chairs where students work with faculty providers to deliver high-quality oral health care to Borderland residents.

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