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Emily Kennedy a senior dental student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry has had many mentors along her career path. 

Her father, Dr. Daniel Kennedy, is also a dentist who has provided her with many opportunities and support. In addition to her father, Kennedy was influenced by Dr. Phil Richards, who helped her realize the practical, realistic parts of dentistry, and how dentists can positively affect patients through treatment. She also credits Dr. Elizabeth Sears, an esteemed art history professor U-M; her high school tennis coach; Dr. Tom “Brick” Pullen and his son, Dr. Kyle Pullen; and daughter-in-law, Dr. Regina Zajia, who all provided support and encouragement to her over the years.

“These individuals have truly helped to shape my education and enthusiasm for dentistry, and I would not be where I am today without them,” she explained.

Kennedy said she wanted to become a dentist because it allowed her to interact with a wide variety of people, and to work in a progressive profession. As a dentist, she sees an opportunity to improve the lives and build long-lasting relationships with patients.

“That is probably the greatest reward,” she said, “to make new friends every day and better their smiles!”

Winning the Michigan Dental Association Foundation MDA/IFG Scholarship, Kennedy said, has strengthened her confidence in her achievements and successes at the dental school. Financially, she said it has been very helpful to have extra money to begin paying back the accrued interest on the student loans. But more importantly, she said winning the scholarship has made her proud of what she has accomplished in four years of dental school. 

Among those accomplishments was serving as secretary for her freshmen dental class. Later, Kennedy served as secretary of the student council, eventually and eventually as president. She also served on the Executive Search Committee to find the next dental school dean. Additionally she was selected as one of the top 100 student leaders on campus to stand behind President Barack Obama when he visited campus to speak on the cost of higher education.  

Kennedy said she expects her leadership experiences in dental school will easily translate into other areas of dentistry, including public health, advocacy, and organized dentistry. 

“I am so appreciative for my faculty mentors, my fellow classmates who entrusted me with these roles, and other student leaders who help to make our school and university a leader and best,” she said.

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