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Sydney Fulcher of Rush City, currently a student at the University of Minnesota, finished as one of 22 finalists in the 12th annual Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway.
After graduating from Rush City High School in 2018, Fulcher continued her education at the University of Minnesota. During her first two years at the university, she mostly worked on completing her general education. Now she is a junior and en route to specializing in an area she has learned she’s passionate about.
“I knew going into college that I wanted to go into health care,” Fulcher said. “I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do.”
Today, Fulcher is confidently working to obtain a dual degree in the university’s dental therapy program, which is a three-year program that offers a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene and a Master of Dental Therapy.
“This is my first semester starting in that program,” Fulcher said. “So taking now some more specific classes, taking things like oral anatomy, introduction to the clinic. … So some of the more dental therapy and dental hygiene specific classes.”
Last summer, Fulcher sought scholarship opportunities to alleviate some tuition costs and avoid taking out more loans than necessary, she said.
“And I remember coming across the Dr Pepper scholarship,” Fulcher said. “And I remember, too, when I was younger, watching football games and seeing the competition where they throw the footballs into the Dr Pepper can.”
This year, Dr Pepper doubled its award amount of free tuition to $2 million, the largest ever award in the program’s 12-year history, said Amanda Gill, a senior account supervisor at Coyne Public Relations, in a press release.
“(Fulcher), along with seven other students will receive thousands in free tuition to put towards their education,” Gill said in the press release. “Dr Pepper, in partnership with Dude Perfect, will award Sydney with her prize in a virtual giveaway competition.”
On Dec. 7, viewers can watch Fulcher compete for her prize virtually on Dude Perfect’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/c/DudePerfect/featured.
“Dude Perfect is helping to deliver free tuition to students in various ways,” Gill added. “On Dec. 7, winners will be revealed in a YouTube compilation video on the Dude Perfect account. The Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway is part of an official sponsorship of the College Football Playoff and Presenting Sponsorship of the National Championship Trophy.”
As part of the application process for the Dr Pepper scholarship, Fulcher and other applicants were tasked to create a video showcasing themselves, their educational endeavors, their future goals and why they deserve the scholarship.
“So when the application opened, I had my boyfriend … he helped me with a lot of the behind-the-scenes camera work,” Fulcher said. “So he and I took a day and we just filmed the video. You know, I put it together. It’s just only a minute long, so it didn’t take too much technological savviness to get it done.”
Fulcher’s video can be viewed at tinyurl.com/y5dpnmck.
About three or four weeks after Fulcher submitted her scholarship application, she received a call and learned that she had made it to the next round in the process, she said.
“I don’t know if I’ve yet to process the fact that I had made it to be a finalist and that I have made it to that next stage,” Fulcher said. “Because I mean,
Dr Pepper’s really, really generous with the amount of money that they’re giving away. … I thank God and I thank Dr Pepper for this really amazing opportunity.”
After Fulcher completes her dual degree, she will have two options, either working as a dental hygienist or a dental therapist, she said.
“I’ll have the qualifications to practice as both,” Fulcher said. “But yes, I’m really, really excited, because dental therapy is somewhat of an up-and-coming profession (and) is something that hasn’t been around for that long. So it’s kind of fun to be a part of like this new program at the U.”
Fulcher said she’s grateful that the University of Minnesota is one of few universities in the nation that offers these programs and trains dental therapists.
“I think that the University of Minnesota does a really great job of, you know, their motto is ‘Curiosity is what drives us to discover,’” Fulcher said. “I definitely think that fits some of my values. And I think that this program really embodies that.”
Fulcher hopes after obtaining her dual dental degree to move someplace in greater Minnesota, where there is a higher demand for care providers, she said.
“To be able to kind of bridge the gap in that sense and be in a place where there aren’t as many,” Fulcher said. “I also just think that I really like living in a rural community.”
“I really just think that Dr Pepper is offering such a great opportunity to all people who want to apply,” she continued. “It’s no secret that no matter what program you’re in, whether it’s related to health care, dentistry, … school’s expensive, there’s no secret. So I was just really drawn to the idea that a company would be that generous. I’m like, ‘OK, that’s awesome. Why not give it a shot?’”