While initially impressed with Penn Dental Medicine’s reputation as a top-tier dental school, Chris ultimately chose it for reasons he found equally important. Having spent all of his life in western New York, he liked Penn Dental Medicine’s location on the campus of a large, urban university, and he saw many opportunities to make a difference, not only on campus but also in the surrounding community.
“Other dental schools were isolated from the rest of the university, whereas Penn Dental is part of a larger university, and of the surrounding University City neighborhood,” he explains. “As a community honors student, I’ve had the opportunity to work in community settings outside of the school, which has been a true learning experience.”
In particular, Chris had the chance to meet and educate local residents at Sayre Health Center, a community clinic in West Philadelphia, where he worked to promote oral health in an underserved section of the city.
He has found that a strong feeling of community continues within the walls of the dental school itself, where he feels a sense of interconnectedness among the departments that benefits both students and patients. “I’ve noticed a great deal of coordination between various departments and programs as they work together to give comprehensive care to our patients. Having strong programs in each specialty helps us plan better, learn more, and carry out treatments more effectively,” he says.
Chris hadn’t considered a career in dentistry until his junior year at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (part of Syracuse University), when he developed a friendship with a fellow student who was predental. “After numerous conversations with her, I became interested in finding out more. I shadowed dentists at a number of offices and a dental school before deciding to apply.”
Chris not only learned that dentistry was a career path that suited him, he also found out about scholarship opportunities through the United Sates Navy. When he graduates, he will fulfill his scholarship commitment by becoming an active-duty Naval dentist. He looks forward to this chapter in his career, and also to what will come afterwards—a chance to join an existing practice or to start one of his own. “I can’t wait to begin utilizing the skills I’ve learned at Penn Dental,” he says.
“Having strong programs in each specialty helps us plan better, learn more, and carry out treatments more effectively.”Chris Maliken