MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a little more than a week, Tyler Fleischer will don his cap and gown and say goodbye to his friends and instructors in the West Virginia University School of Dentistry’s Dental Hygiene program. Though that journey is coming to an end, he will transition to an even bigger adventure – one that will take him all the way to Africa.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Fleischer said he has always wanted to become a dentist. After all, oral health is in his blood: his mom is a dental hygienist and his grandfather was a dentist.

But that’s not the only familial trait he has inherited.

Inspired by his older brother Paul’s work in South Korea and Tanzania, Fleischer has always wanted to give back in a big way. He will get that chance on June 25, when he heads to Tanzania to meet up with his brother and sister-in-law.

Together, they will work at the TAMIHA orphanage. Paul and his wife, Chelsie, will work on skill-building with the children there while Fleischer will provide oral health education and basic oral hygiene procedures.

“I’ve never done a trip like this,” he said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

To help support his efforts in Tanzania, Fleischer has created a page on GoFundMe. All money donated will support the orphanage with everything from food to toothbrushes. He also wants to be able to bring in the dentist who practices in the area for emergency procedures. Funds raised through the website will be used to pay the dentist for his work. Any remaining money not spent during his four weeks there will go directly to the orphanage. Anyone interested in supporting the venture can visit  

As if graduating and spending four weeks in Africa isn’t enough, Fleischer has a pretty big endeavor waiting for him when he returns. He and fellow Class of 2013 graduate Michael Law are starting a Morgantown-based dental hygiene temping agency called West Virginia Dental Hygiene Services.

Fleischer said they have already obtained a business license and are in the process of recruiting dental offices to participate in the program, which will connect hygienists with dentists on a temporary basis, such as during a medical leave or other extended absence.

Eventually, Fleischer hopes to become a dentist and even dreams of working with Dentists Without Borders.

“I realize this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “But I hope it reoccurs.”
For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
ajk: 05-08-13