By School of Dentistry - November 11, 2014

LLU dental student Jason Joo (class of 2015) was honored with the Academy of Dentistry International’s Terry Tanaka Student Humanitarian Award at ADI’s annual Awards banquet, October 8, 2014, in San Antonio. The award is given to the North American senior dental student who best exemplifies the humanitarian values and service to others for which ADI is known.

Dr. Tanaka presented the Humanitarian Award to Jason.

This is the third consecutive year that an LLUSD student has been selected for the Tanaka Award—Jason follows Mathew Enns last year, and Jason Mashni in 2012—and the sixth Loma Linda student chosen since the prestigious award was introduced in 2002.



Michael Cho and Jason double-team a fortunate patient.

The award was presented by Terry Tanaka, DDS, clinical professor, Department of Graduate Prosthodontics, USC School of Dentistry, the dentist whose name it bears. Dr. Tanaka said that “to be able to read all the activities and accomplishments of these young students as they serve others in need is … to know that altruism and humanitarian service is alive and well in our “Future Dentists.” He proceeded to review some of the activities that led to the 2014 awardees selection:




This year’s winner is Jason Joo from Loma Linda University where they have established “a culture of helping the underserved” for many years. This has allowed Jason many opportunities to participate in international field mission trips to countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil as well as local service learning venues. The LLU School of Dentistry even has a weekly “Compassion Clinic” where students help to provide services and dental care on a weekly basis to the local homeless and disadvantaged. I have known several of their faculty advisors—Drs. Peter Shaw, Tom Rogers, and Mark Carpenter—since they were volunteers in San Diego County over 30 years ago.

Jason had already been on more than 56 days of International Field Mission trips before he even entered dental school.

By the time he entered dental school he was organizing other dental students to go on these trips plus planning the logistical support and recruiting more faculty to come along too.

His ability to get a local hospital to start an educational program for oral health prevention is also a major accomplishment.

In dental school he has spent at least 37 days organizing, traveling and working on International Field Mission trips; another seven months flying to other mission [venues] in Coachella Valley, California (with the “Flying Doctors”); and volunteering weekly at the [New Hope] Free Dental Clinic, exemplary of the caliber of young individuals that ADI has recruited for this award.

Jason was clearly the winner this year even though many of the other candidates had very impressive resumes and had participated in many local and international projects to help the underserved.

If these candidates represent the “Future of Dentistry,” we can all look forward to a bright and optimistic future for our profession and for all mankind.

Congratulations and thank you, Jason; and a special thank you to your mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Joo, for teaching you to care about those less fortunate and to do something about it.

In this world, “talk is cheap.” As Robert Fulghum said in his book, “I don’t want to know what you feel or believe about the poor and less fortunate, I want to know what you will do about it.”

Jason was surprised and humbled by the Terry Tanaka Award.



It is a blessing to be at an institution that provides these opportunities to its students. So many people and groups have been supportive of me, so I would like to share this award with them. First, I hope that in these efforts, God is glorified in all that we do. I’d also like to thank my parents and family, who have been very supportive of me. They never once said, “No,” when I asked if I could go on a mission trip, and for that I am thankful. I’m also thankful for the many churches that have given me the opportunity to serve on these mission trips. It is always encouraging to be a part of a common goal that people all over the world devote their lives to. I’m also thankful for my mentors, Dr. Mark Carpenter and Dr. Tom Rogers, both of whom instilled a heart of service in me. I’d also like to thank my good friend and classmate, Michael Cho, who served with me on all of our mission trips while in dental school, and who helped me organize our class Honduras project.



Jason and classmate Brock Willey perform collaborative care.

The Academy of Dentistry International is the international honor society for dentists dedicated to sharing knowledge in order to serve the dental health needs and to improve the quality of life for people throughout the world. Through the development of fellowship and understanding, the Academy endeavors to create opportunities for service in order to assist in the establishment of a world at peace.