By Janice Malone
NASHVILLE, TN — In this season of giving, Dr. Jacqueline Butler Mitchell, DDS, founder, and owner of Integrity Dental Care, started giving long before the holiday season began.
Dr. Mitchell recently gifted HBCU students with the Integrity Dental Care College Scholarships, which totaled up to $20,000.
“God gave me a vision about donating these scholarships,” shares Dr. Mitchell from her Nashville based office. “Initially, the plan was to give a total of $10,000 in increments of $500 to twenty students.” It sounded like a very practical and noteworthy project but according to the faith-based doctor, God had a different plan.
“One Sunday morning, I was listening to a pastor’s sermon, and I became a bit convicted. The pastor was speaking about the importance of why we as Christians need to ‘pour out to others and not become stagnant.’ It was at this point in his sermon that I clearly believe God spoke to my heart to increase the scholarship amount from $10, 000 to $20,000.”
Dr. Mitchell readily admits that initially, she was a bit nervous about doubling the scholarship amount. But that hesitancy soon left because Dr. Mitchell says she wanted to be obedient to the assignment God had entrusted her with. “I immediately had a meeting with my marketing director, to inform him about the new increased amount.
Once the new plan was in place, it allowed us to now bless 40 HBCU students with $500 scholarships. The students were just so excited! The scholarship project’s been an unbelievable experience,” shares Dr. Mitchell, who’s a devout Christian, that’s been a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Bishop Joseph Walker III, D. Min. (pastor), for over two decades.
The Integrity Dental Care Scholarships were presented to students throughout the HBCU collective, from Nashville to Texas, Atlanta, and beyond. One of the scholarships was presented to a Spelman elementary education major student, on behalf of Dr. Mitchell’s sister, Marilyn Butler, who passed away last year.
Another memorable scholarship was awarded to a Fisk biology major student, on behalf of Dr. Mitchell’s father, Tenola Butler, who was a Fisk graduate and a biology major as well. Unlike most scholarship programs that often have intense stringent requirements, these scholarships had a different approach, as Dr. Mitchell explains. “The only requirement was for the HBCU student to be in good standing with their school and to have a real legitimate financial need. I didn’t want GPAs to be a factor because oftentimes so many students miss out on scholarships because of a few grade points.
Some of the students were just amazed to actually receive a scholarship without having to worry about having a high GPA. Several of them said they’ve never heard or seen anyone grant a scholarship like this. So many of these students have hardcore financial needs. It’s very real, so it’s important to help these kids graduate and succeed in their lives.” Dr Mitchell did remind each recipient to remember to give back to others and to HBCU’s once they become successful.
Dr. Mitchell knows from first-hand experience what it’s like to be a college student who’s in need. The Dallas native is a graduate of the Meharry School of Dentistry. She has fond memories of her days as a young dental student with big dreams of one day becoming a dentist but was often short on cash. “Meharry helped me so much. When my father first brought me to Meharry, I had only $176. That money had to last me until my dad got paid again. But he was doing his best. I needed everything–dormitory, books, food, fees, all of it. But the good people at Meharry stepped up to the plate and assisted me with everything including helping me to complete my loans for dental school. Not only that, but Meharry helped me to get the education to become the dentist that I am today. So, I’m very thankful to them for doing so. Therefore, it’s important for me to reach back to help these students,” recalls Dr. Mitchell with much humility.
Today, Dr. Mitchell has since become the first Black woman to open and run three general dental practices simultaneously in Tennessee. Among her many accolades includes becoming the 2020 recipient of the Fred C. Fielder, D.D.S. Distinguished Dentist Award presented by Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. The Fielder Award honors Dr. Fred Fielder, former Chair of the Department of Operative Dentistry and Dean Emeritus of the School of Dentistry at Meharry. The award is given to a Meharry alumnus of the School of Dentistry who has demonstrated leadership and personal commitment to our mission of service through the exemplary practice of dentistry.
She recently served as a part-time Clinical Dean at the historic college, and over the years has gifted several thousands of dollars in scholarships to Meharry dental students as well.
When it comes to philanthropy, generosity, and helping the community, Integrity Dental Care and Dr. Mitchell are always at the forefront. Last year the dentistry group was one of the organizers of a weekly food distribution drive in North Nashville that provided food boxes to hundreds of families each Saturday. In three months, 33,000 boxes of food were given out to the public. Dr. Mitchell has spent much of her career serving and giving back to the public, which is a trait instilled in her and her sister by their parents. She says, “Both of my parents were school teachers. Growing up, we watched how they poured into their students and to other young people daily.” Over the years, it became clear to me the importance of giving back and pouring into the lives of others who are in need. And that goes back to what I said earlier about the pastor’s sermon about ‘pouring out to others and not being stagnant.”
For 2022, Dr. Mitchell and Integrity Dental Care plan to continue in the spirit of giving to students at HBCU institutions, “My mom was a graduate of Wiley College so, I plan to establish a scholarship in her honor, and to also do more with Fisk in my dad’s honor. I enjoy giving to others and very grateful to be in a position to do so. “I get such joy watching peoples facial expressions on how surprised and happy they are when you’re able to give to them and it’s not expected. Their smiles quickly become tears of joy for us both!”