Dr. Meeks paves the way by leading Maryland's first dental clinic for patients with HIV, AIDS
BALTIMORE- February is Black History Month and WJZ is honoring trailblazers in our community.
Dr. Valli Meeks is the director of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry's PLUS Clinic, the state's first dental clinic for Marylanders with HIV and AIDS.
"it's a matter of being the gatekeeper to make sure they have access to care. It's not stigmatizing or segregating the patients, but allowing, ensuring that they do have access to care and not get lost in the shuffle," Meeks said.
The clinic was established in 1989, and has been a saving grace for thousands of Marylanders. She also served in Brazil, Nigeria, and most notably, in Germany pioneering a dental school in Rwanda.
"They were trying to increase their health workforce increase the number of doctors, dentists, nurses. So the University of Maryland School of Dentistry partnered with Harvard, dental school, and we helped to establish the first dental school in Rwanda," said Meeks.
Dr. Meeks was honored in 2018 as University of Maryland Baltimore's Public Servant of the Year.
"It's an honor, but humbling, because you can be a trailblazer," Dr. Meeks said. "But you got a lot of people that really help you out. And I can't say I could never have done this alone."
Dr. Meeks said the journey wasn't a traditional one, but she's always had a love for health and science.
"I started out as a high school, Physical Education teacher, and the idea of health just always inspired me," Dr. Meeks said. "So when we talk about STEM, I think STEM chose me, and I just expanded from there."
She offered a word of advice to young men and women hoping to follow in her footsteps.
"Don't set your bar too low, set it up high and just keep going," Dr. Meeks said. "Don't think that you can't achieve."
Dr. Meeks said she is continuing her work to ensure people have access to the care they need with trips planned to Cuba and Rwanda in the near future.
for more features.