Dental School elects first African American class president


Photo by Zach Bukowski

Chante Parker became the Dental School’s first African American class president.

Graduate student Chanté Parker became the Marquette University Dental School’s first African American class president in September.

Amber May, the director of diversity and inclusion at the dental school, said she was shocked when she heard Parker had become the class president because it was something that had never happened before. May said it’s clear the class respects Parker and was proud of the students who see her as a leader.

“I was very happy. It was amazing,” Mourin Serour, a second year Marquette graduate student in Parker’s class, said.

Parker received a degree in microbiology and immunology from the University of Miami before she came to Marquette for graduate school.

There were many factors that influenced Parker’s decision to attend Marquette. She said the dental school had a good reputation, and she liked the slower paced city of Milwaukee.

She also said her mentor guided her toward Marquette, everyone was very welcoming and she felt that it was the best place for her to go to prepare for life after school. 

Parker went through a short process to become the class president.

She was nominated by a fellow classmate and then gave a speech along with the three other candidates who had also been nominated. The class then voted in an election.

Parker said she will have an “ambassadorial role” as her class president. Some of her jobs will include taking any concerns of her class to the board of the dental school, taking care of small issues inside the class, such as complaints about instructors and putting on events such as a Buddy Day for year one and two graduate students.

Parker said she hopes to build good relationships within the class by putting on events and making sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard.

May said the Office of Diversity at the Dental School will be “cheering her from the sideline,” meaning that they will always be there for Parker. The director also said they will be a foundation of support for the class president and will help her if needed.

Serour said the class will support Parker and will respond to her questions and surveys for the class so they can help “make her job easier and communicate effectively.” 

Parker said she believes that being a very articulate and neutral person are some of the reasons she was elected. She said she is “a great person to carry out class concerns,” and she is “not afraid of higher authority, but is always respectful.”

May said she believes Parker is “reserved and knows how to articulate her passion straight to the point.”

Serour said Parker is very transparent, honest, a great communicator and is willing to fight for any one of her classmates. 

Serour said the class is excited to have Parker as president. She said most of the class voted for her and will support her on her journey.”

“Having someone like Chante who could support me and cares for me is something that helps her strive to continue her education at the Marquette Dental School,” Mourin said.

May said Parker being the class president will help inspire other minority students in all fields and will show them that they can become leaders as well.

Parker said she hopes to have her own dental practice after she finishes school, but for now she will focus on her tasks and try to achieve her ultimate goal as class president, which is to see all her classmates graduate.