What made you choose ECU for both your undergraduate education and also your residency in dentistry?
I chose to come to ECU for my undergraduate degree for a few reasons. I really wanted to stay in this area because my entire family is in eastern North Carolina. Many of them went to ECU so I knew it was a good school. And I really like that even though we have so many students here, the class sizes are still small. I think that is very important and I’m glad we are able to do it. I really liked the fact that there is really no snobbery here. You kind of get that at other schools, and it’s a shame that you do. There’s just a different vibe here. People are friendly and there’s this sense that we are all in this together.
Growing up in eastern North Carolina, I’ve always loved this area. It has a lot to offer, especially with the Outer Banks. It’s nice to go to college somewhere where you can head to the beach on the weekend. I chose to come back to do my residency for the same reasons.
Why did you want to become a dentist?
I knew at an early age that I wanted to have a health-care profession. I decided to pursue dentistry because it is procedural-based and you get to see patients regularly. I didn’t like the idea of only seeing patients in perhaps their darkest hour or time of greatest need, as happens with other health-related fields. I like that dentists see entire families—mom, dad, children—everybody. You really get to know them, and I think that allows you to really become an integral part of the community in which you live and work. I also like the idea of working with my hands. Believe it or not, there is an art to dentistry, a real sense of craftsmanship.
What does it mean to have a dental school here at ECU?
It's going to mean a lot. It’s really going to be an advantage for the people of this area. As a result of having the dental school, people will receive more and better dental care. Right now you hear about people having to wait long periods of time to get a dental appointment, and I think that will change once more kids from this area see that they have the opportunity to pursue dentistry without having to leave the area. That’s kind of the long-term benefit. In the short term, the dental school will help just by providing more education and awareness about why oral health is important. That will happen immediately. But there is definitely a need for dentists in eastern North Carolina. Nationally, the state as a whole ranks pretty low in terms of the dentist-to-patient ratio, and this region especially. I’m excited about it, and I hope to be involved with it.