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The Michigan Dental Association Foundation proudly presents a recipient of the 2012-13 Academic year, Michigan Dental Association Foundation Robert D. Mitus Scholarship, to Kerri Slane from Battle Creek, 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 Albion College where I received my bachelor’s degree in economics and management before beginning the dental hygiene program at Kellogg Community College.

Why did you want to become a dental professional? 

I want to become a dental professional to share my knowledge about the importance of a healthy mouth to those who may or may not be aware of how important it really is.  As I was growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to learn about preventative dentistry and I want to be that difference in young lives that I was unable to have in my own.

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

Dr. David Brown, Dr. George Brown and Dr. Jon Eckhardt

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

The best advice I had been given was from Dr. David Brown.  I have confided in him about a career in dentistry ever since my senior year in high school. When I shadowed him, he would always share the trials and tribulations of his time in dental school and his son’s current status in dental school. Once I had decided to take a different path and become a hygienist as my first step, he was really excited for me. He gave me reassurance that I was taking a step in the right direction. He had gone to school with some students that were once hygienists before pursuing dental school. He really gave me the confidence that this would take me down the right path and that maybe I would even decide that I like being a hygienist enough to just continue down this path.

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

Take time to observe offices in different areas of dentistry, as you may find your true passion where you would have never looked.

What do you enjoy the most about dentistry?

The challenge it brings. No case is ever the same and finding the best solution for every patient and seeing the difference it makes in their lives is well worth the time and effort.

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

Dentistry always appealed to me probably because it was something none of my friends could fathom, having their hands in other people’s mouths and all. It wasn’t until I observed first in Dr. George Brown and Dr. Jon Eckhardt’s orthodontics office that I really realized what dentistry was really about. It really hit home for me about what I could contribute to the career when observing Dr. George Brown. At this point in his career he was retired and coming into the office out of the goodness of his heart to help with special orthodontic cases. This one case was special to me because I come from a family where dental care was not the number one priority because both my parents grew up in families that were lacking in knowledge the importance of dental care. A young boy living in a foster care home was in dire need of orthodontics and oral surgery to help him have a properly functioning mouth. So growing up in this home they didn’t have money for the treatment that was presented to them. Dr. Brown was working free of charge to help this young boy. It was amazing to watch the progress he made for this young child to have a healthy, happy smile. It really touched my heart that someone would be as generous as to donate their time to really help someone in need. I know that’s the person I want to be someday.

Is there one procedure you enjoy the most?

What I enjoy the most is non-surgical periodontal therapy and following up with good patient education for proper home care. Seeing some of the patients I have, I realize that home care is the most importance part for them and seeing them come back with a success story about their care makes me realize I made a difference in their life!

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

Winning the scholarship will allow me to use any extra money I receive back from my student loan to pay back immediately to the provider so it’s like I never had a loan; therefore, decreasing the amount of loans to repay!

Where do you see yourself in six months after graduation?

Six months after graduation I want to have a full time position as a dental hygienist as well as taking extra sciences courses now required for dental school. I also will take the DAT in August and apply to dental schools in September.

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

In three years I see myself beginning the second half of my second year of dental school. In 10 years I see myself practicing orthodontics as an associate with another orthodontist. I want to work in a practice where my colleague and I can be challenged with cases and work together to find the best solution for each individual case.

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

I have attended Student American Dental Hygienists Association conferences in both 2011 and 2012, the Chicago Mid-Winter Convention, and “Dental Hygiene in a Changing World: Empowering, Supporting, & Developing Your Career” that was held in Chicago in 2012.

If so, what did you enjoy about attending the meeting? If no, why not?

What I enjoyed most about the SADHA conferences was seeing the vendors that would come and talk about new products on the market. The Chicago Mid-Winter Convention was neat to see vendors from all over the world ready to show you the next big thing for dental offices. The Dental Hygiene in a Changing World conference was a big eye opener as to where dental hygiene could take me, not just clinically but as a business professional. 

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?

I could see myself on a committee at a local level because I like to see faces that I recognize and know that what I’m doing will be helping locally to people that I know and can really help their needs.

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

Outside of the dental office, I enjoy playing volleyball both indoors and in the sand, running, reading Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson books, and traveling.

Thank you for a glimpse  into the life of a Michigan Dental Association Foundation Robert D. Mitus 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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