the woman behind browgirl,rdh

Martelle Coke is the founder and CEO of BrownGirl, RDH, a non-profit organization promoting cultural diversity within the dental hygiene field. BrownGirl, RDH offers scholarships and supplemental support to dental hygiene students, covering costs outside of tuition; which include clinical supplies, equipment, loupes, national and clinical board fees. Martelle always had hopes of becoming a dentist as a young girl. Becoming a teen mom and dealing with socioeconomic conditions temporarily delayed dental school. Lack of support, poverty and being a first generation college student altered her dream and led her to pursue dental hygiene school instead and was accepted into an extremely competitive Dental Hygiene Program in Upstate New York. Martelle was proud of her accomplishment but had no financial means or support to pay for the programs’ requirements, and had to decline the invitation into the program after receiving her orientation checklist.

After learning about the limited outside resources to assist with the costs of the program she decided to pursue dental hygiene after all. In May 2012, Martelle completed her A.A.S in Dental Hygiene graduating at the top of her class. She practiced for 7 years, recognizing the lack of diversity and challenges within the dental hygiene profession. Having experienced a lack of familial support, outside tuition costs, teen pregnancy, and being a first generation college student, Martelle was determined to create a change by supporting dental hygienists, who experience similar struggles.

Thus in 2018, BrownGirl,RDH was created. In just over a year, the organization has a following of over 13k and has awarded 12 dental hygiene scholarships to deserving students nationwide. Her contribution to the dental hygiene community has landed her coverage in print and broadcast outlets around and outside of the country,including ADHA components, Dental Entrepreneur Women Magazine and RDH Magazine, being named an RDH influencer in the dental hygiene community. Presented at RDH Under One Roof by international speaker Kristy Menage Bernie, RDH, MS, RYT: #Top Trending Topics in Dentistry. Martelle’s articles have been featured on Young Dental's online education platform Hygienicated

In addition to her extensive dedication of removing cultural and economic barriers to joining the dental hygiene workforce, and shifting the mindset of who can work in the dental hygiene field; Martelle uses her following to contribute to mission trips abroad, and gives back to the community through organizing back to school drives,health fairs and establishing several local scholarship foundations.

Martelle is finishing her BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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