Penn Dental Medicine


Matthew Ryskalczyk

Attention to Detail: A Passion for Working with his Hands Leads a Student to Find Meaning—and a Future Career—in Dentistry

As a high school student and an Eagle Scout growing up in Seattle, Matt Ryskalczyk enjoyed building Pinewood Derby cars with a family friend who worked as a periodontist. The friend noticed Matt’s superior fine motor skills and his close attention to detail, and suggested he might be interested in dentistry. “He described what he did on a daily basis, and I was hooked,” remembers Matt. “The chance to use my hand skills in my professional career, as I did in carpentry, led me to choose dental school.”

Clinical and Faculty Excellence

Matt’s attention to detail served him well as a biochemistry major at Seattle University, especially when he began to research dental schools nationwide. After a careful search, he chose Penn Dental Medicine for its reputation for excellence in teaching and clinical experiences.

Matt, who has developed valuable leadership skills as president of his class for the past three years, has experienced the basis for Penn Dental Medicine’s reputation firsthand. He has high praise for the clinical experience, especially the oral surgery clinic – he describes his experiences there as one of the most meaningful aspects of his education. “The fun, joy, and camaraderie I’ve experienced while treating patients with my fellow students in the clinic has been a huge motivation for me to pursue oral and maxillofacial surgery as a specialty,” he says.

In addition, Matt has learned a great deal from his group leader, Dr. Alan Rauch, who, Matt says, “has served as a bridge between dental school and the life of a dentist outside of school, and has given me insight that no class can teach, and the kind of feedback that can only be obtained by working closely with someone one-on-one. His professional demeanor and calm attitude have given me something to aspire to.”

Opening Doors

When deciding on a dental school, Matt hoped that because of its fine reputation, Penn Dental Medicine would position him to be considered for a top residency when the time came. He has not been disappointed. “What has impressed me most about Penn Dental is the doors it has opened for me,” he says. “I know I won’t have a problem competing for a residency anywhere in the country.

Matthew Ryskalczyk
“The fun, joy, and camaraderie I’ve experienced while treating patients with my fellow students in the clinic has been a huge motivation for me.”
Matthew Ryskalczyk
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry
Why did you choose Penn Dental?: “I wanted to attend a school where I would get an excellent dental education and be well situated for residency applications if I decided to pursue a residency.”
The Robert Schattner Center
University of Pennsylvania
School of Dental Medicine
240 South 40th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6030