As Victoria Q. Cisneros, DDS, balanced classes, labs, and clinics with family life, the women of UTHealth School of Dentistry proved themselves to be much more than classmates and faculty members.
Victoria enrolled in the school’s Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics later than most. More than a decade after earning her DDS at University of La Salle Bajio in Mexico, she had settled into life in Houston with her husband, Ricardo, and young son, Ricky.
“At the time, I didn’t have anyone to take care of Ricky while I went to school. My husband worked nights at the airport, so he had to sleep during the day,” Victoria says.
Catherine Flaitz, DDS, then Dean of the School of Dentistry, helped smooth the way by allowing Cisneros to bring Ricky to her 7 a.m. pathology class—which Flaitz taught—before dropping him off at school. Victoria’s fellow students also stepped in to help, including Patricia Riano, DDS, who took Ricky to and from school when needed, and Amanda Echeverria, DDS, who would help bring him to the library for homework.
“I am so thankful for everyone who went out of their way for us,” Victoria says.
Since graduating in 2003 and developing her own private practice, Cisneros Dental Group, Victoria has decided to give back to the program in a big way: pledging a substantial gift to the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics, with an endowment to be established now and an estate commitment to bolster the future of the program. In recognition of her generosity, the graduate clinic has been name the Victoria Q. Cisneros, DDS, MS, Advanced Prosthodontics Clinic.
“On behalf of our students, residents, faculty, and staff, I thank Dr. Cisneros for her generous support of UTHealth School of Dentistry,” says John A. Valenza, DDS. “Her gift will advance innovative patient care, education, and research for the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics and nurture the education of specialists like her for generations to come.”
This is Victoria’s second major gift to the School of Dentistry; she established the Veteran’s Oral Health Endowment in 2017 to honor members of her husband’s family who served in the military. That endowment also serves as a tribute to one of her mentors, Air Force veteran Robert L. Engelmeier, DMD, former Director of the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics, who went the extra mile for residents.
“I come from a family of giving, so helping others was normal for me growing up,” she says. “I also want to set an example for my son so he can continue to give back to the community.”
Thinking back on the women who helped her achieve her goals, Victoria remembers them well, especially Maria Gonzalez, DDS, now Associate Professor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics at the School of Dentistry, who helped a great deal with lab work during preceptor training. Victoria says completing the program would have proven very difficult without her.
However challenging it was, Victoria would not change a thing about her experience at the School of Dentistry, as it marked her path forward in life.
“I received so much from the school, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if it weren’t for that opportunity,” she says.