Hi Rob, where are you from?
I am from Danville, Pennsylvania.
Why did you choose dental school, and why here? You didn't go straight from undergrad to dental school?
That is correct. I would classify myself as a non-traditional student at this point. When I was 12, I saw a root canal procedure being performed on a patient, and it was at that moment I decided that I wanted to be a dentist. So everything since age 12 has been for this moment here.
I went to college and when I graduated I applied to dental school. Back then, I did not get in.
So, I worked as a dental assistant at a federally qualified health clinic in south central Pennsylvania. That motivated me even further to get into the dental field.
I decided to go to graduate school and get my Master of Science in biology.
I applied to dental school after graduate school and still did not get accepted. So, I decided to work for a couple of years.
I was a chemist for about two and a half years, and then I worked as a scientist in vaccines for another year. And then, I finally got into dental school.
And you're finally about to get out of dental school. What's this moment like for you?
It's surreal. It's been about 22 years in the making for me. I can finally say that I will no longer have a job, I will have a career.
How excited are you to get into patient care and practice?
I've been ready for 22 years. I cannot wait. I've always told my patients here at the school that I am here for you and you're not here for me. And, I stand by that. “Patient first” has been my philosophy since the beginning.
What will be some of the most memorable things that you take from the School of Dentistry at WVU?
The mentorship given by the faculty. I've built such a strong rapport with many faculty here at the clinic. I've learned a tremendous amount of knowledge that I can apply to future experiences with my patients.
What would you tell your freshman self?
I would tell myself, first and foremost, that it does get better because the first couple years of dental school are the most grueling educational experiences I've ever had - and I've gone to undergrad and graduate school and did full time research. It (dental school) was very taxing on me. There were moments where I wanted to say, ‘Maybe this really is not for me.’ But I'd also tell myself, ‘Remember why you're doing this in the first place. Remember that those patient experiences you have in the future will shape you and define you as a clinician.’ So it gets better.