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The Michigan Dental Association Foundation proudly presents a recipient of the 2012-13 Academic year, Michigan Dental Association Foundation MDA/IFG Scholarship, to Emily Kennedy from Ann Arbor, Mich. The Foundation had the opportunity to chat with the recipient and would like to share some of her thoughts and inspirations regarding dentistry:

Where do you go to school, which schools have you attended on your journey to becoming a Dental Professional?

I attended the University of Michigan for my undergraduate education, concentrating in the History of Art. I continued my dental education, also, at the University of Michigan. (Go Blue!)

Why did you want to become a dental professional?

I wanted to become a dentist because it allowed me to work with a wide variety of people, to work in a field that is truly progressive. I am fortunate to improve the lives of people and to prevent and treat pain, which is incredible. I am able to make my own hours, I can work with my hands, and art is an important part of nearly every dental procedure. Finally, building long-lasting relationships with patients, their parents and children is probably the greatest reward. You get to make new friends every day, and better their smiles! And we get paid to do so!

Who inspired/mentored you along the way? (Include any names.)

My father, Dr. Daniel Kennedy, also a dentist, has provided me with so many opportunities, for which I am extremely grateful. His support and positivity are so, so important to me. Dr. Elizabeth Sears, an esteemed History of Art Professor at the Univ. of Michigan has mentored and inspired me through my studies of Medieval art with her, and even now. My tennis coach in high school, Dr. Tom “Brick” Pullen and his son, Dr. Kyle Pullen, and daughter-in-law, Dr. Regina Zajia have supported me since I was a teenager, and even more so in recent years. Dr. Phil Richards helps me to realize the practical, realistic parts of dentistry, and how we can truly affect our patients positively with our work. These individuals have truly helped to shape my education and enthusiasm for dentistry, and I would not be where I am today without them.

What is the best advice you have been given while in the pursuit of your career?

My father tells me often to’ find the humor in dentistry.’ It’s a very intensive career, and can be draining if you let it. But if you can laugh with your patients, and at yourself, and with yourself, the job is so much happier.

What advice can you give to students thinking about pursuing a career in dentistry?

Get involved, right from the beginning. Find those things that give you balance and peace of mind. It is a very challenging education, but whether it is extra-curricular activities, or research, or running or painting, or even napping, find those things that have merit in your life, and do them. Your education will be far more fulfilling.

What do you enjoy the most about dentistry?

What I enjoy most about dentistry is its duality between practical applications and intelligence. For example, it is surgery and it is also cognitive. We make diagnoses, and then we treat the problem. It is medicine, but it is also art.

Can you share a story or experience that made you realize that dentistry was the right profession for you?

I realized that I made the right decision in choosing to become a dentist when my grandfather asked me during the brunt of my D2 year whether or not I was truly happy…if it seemed “worth it.” I replied that it absolutely was, even then. I knew my learning had purpose, had a goal. I knew I was comfortable being uncomfortable, and that I felt valued. Value came from working hard with patients, and from school projects and helping with Delta Sigma Delta, my dental fraternity. Without value, dentistry can quickly become a chore.

Is there one procedure you enjoy the most?

I absolutely adore working with small children, especially those with handicaps or learning disabilities.

How has winning the Michigan Dental Association Foundation Scholarship helped you?

More than anything, it has strengthened my confidence in my achievements and successes at the dental school. Financially, it is very helpful to be able to have money to begin to pay back the accrued interest on our loans (any amount helps!), but more than anything, it has made me so proud of what I have helped to accomplish in my four years with my classmates (especially Steve Kilpatrick).

Where do you see yourself in six months after graduation?

I see myself here in Ann Arbor, working with my father and his 2 dental partners, Dr. Chris Marzonie and Dr. Steven Gray. I plan to jump into continuing education, with courses on occlusion, patient management, and orthodontia.

Where do you see yourself in three/10 years after graduation?

I am evaluating whether or not I would like to continue my education after graduation with a residency in pediatric dentistry, but hopefully with time and practice in general dentistry, the right path for me will become more obvious.

Have you attended any local, state or national dental meetings?

I’ve attended a couple Washtenaw District Dental Society meetings, and one Detroit District Dental Society meeting. Both were inspiring and educational. There are so many opportunities for dentists to be involved in great organizations and projects throughout the area.

Do you see yourself participating in organized dentistry, serving on a committee on either a national, state or local level?

If so which one interests you? Absolutely! When a committee of motivated, enthused people get together, truly amazing things can happen. For example, I would love to work with the Pierre Fauchard Academy someday. Attending one of their meetings exemplified the type of accomplishments that dentists can achieve when working together. Working to serve our communities is necessary for everyone’s success, and PFA is a excellent avenue for just that.

What do you like to do beyond dentistry (hobbies, talents, etc.)?

I love to read about food, I love to listen to radio programs about food, and I enjoy preparing meals and baking. I also enjoy playing golf when it’s warmer outside, and doing jigsaw puzzles and playing tennis inside when it’s cooler. Spending time with my parents and three sisters is truly my favorite thing to do. My first objective when I graduate is to get a puppy! 

Thank you for a glimpse  into the life of a Michigan Dental Association Foundation  MDA/IFG Scholarship recipient. Your hard work and efforts are clearly demonstrated.  You will be an asset to the dental profession.

The Michigan Dental Association Foundation awards scholarships annually to dental , dental hygiene and dental assisting students.  We believe that the people of Michigan deserve exceptional oral health professionals.  All scholarships are given to Michigan residents attending Michigan universities and colleges.  The Michigan Dental Association Foundation is devoted to becoming the philanthropic leader of the oral health community in order to fund student scholarships, provide oral health initiatives and access to care.


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