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Christina Rosenthal Headshot

Christina T. Rosenthal, DDS, MPH

Founder, Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS)

Donation Recipient: The 516 Foundation

Driven by her desire to serve others, Dr. Christina Rosenthal founded Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS) in 2011 as a way to give back to the inner-city Memphis community where she grew up. DDS provides programming, mentorship and resources for diverse young people. Christina shares her personal journey overcoming hardships faced by many students today to inspire change and empower them to envision a future career in health care. Twelve years later, hundreds of students have completed the program, many have become doctors and some have even earned full scholarships to college. Christina calls this program a catalyst to expose young children and high school students to the possibilities beyond what they see every day. Participants hear from local guest professionals who speak from the heart and show participants that people just like themselves have become doctors, dentists and entered many other professions. In addition to exposure to all of the possibilities for their futures, the program provides the academic and technical education necessary to gain admission to higher education. The program also indirectly teaches life skills such as how to shake someone’s hand and professional dinner etiquette.

The more I tell my story, the more grateful I am for everything in my life. I walk in purpose to share my journey so others can come to their own spirit of optimism. DDS fills an important void, giving kids from nontraditional families or limited means a safe place to be themselves and the freedom to imagine a career in health care. If I could do it, so can they.


DDS is one of just a few U.S. organizations providing a STEAM-based curriculum outside of the traditional school setting. Participants are matched with a mentor that serves as a cultural reference and guide to prepare for a health career, if that is the path mentees choose. And many do. Initially created as part of Christina’s participation in the American Dental Association Institute for Diversity and Leadership, DDS is creating a pathway for historically underserved young people in Memphis to careers in health care. It is Christina’s aim to expand to any communities interested because there will always be a need for mentorship.

Why Pathway Programs Matter

Program Stats

  • Single day symposium every August – involves roughly 85 to 175 students
  • Each 6-month program averages 30 to 45 students ages 14 to 18
  • In 2019, programming was added for children ages 2 to 5
  • Mentorship, scholarship and shadowing opportunities
  • Academic and college test prep support
  • Total students served since the inaugural symposium: 1,311
  • Total toddlers served since 2019 start: 63 (the program was on COVID hiatus 2020-2022)

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