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Practical experience for future dental practice

Kevin Byrd on advantages of pre-med program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“My internships have given me confidence in the practical application of life skills in medicine.”

The future is a long and winding road with a lot of options, but 2009 alumnus Kevin Byrd says Huntington University prepared him for it.

Unlike most other biology majors, Byrd, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., came to Huntington with plans to attend dental school after graduation.

After his freshman year at Huntington, Byrd landed his first summer internship with Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates. The oral surgeons were so impressed that they invited him back for another internship the following year.

“I want Kevin to hurry up and get into dental school, so he can hurry up and get an oral surgery residency, so he can return to Fort Wayne to join our practice,” wrote Dr. Michael Stronczeck of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates in a rave review on his internship evaluation.

Through those two summer internships, Byrd gained the knowledge and skills of a dental assistant, a profession that typically requires a two-year course of study.

“My internships have given me confidence in the practical application of life skills in medicine,” he said. “Sure, it was intimidating to think that patients were expecting me to have all the answers, but when you realize you have that responsibility, you tend to learn the answers quite fast.

“I was really challenged during my internships, and in the end, I knew I did the best job I could, and I learned the things I should have learned for the right reasons,” Kevin added. “It was quite an experience for me to learn that before getting to dental school. I felt like I was making the choice God wanted me to make — one out of love and of His will.”

Byrd credits the biology department at Huntington for preparing him so well in his studies, especially for his time at the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry.

“I give Huntington props, if you will,” he said with a laugh. “(Huntington) gave me ample skills to go against kids from Harvard.”

Byrd will graduate in 2013 from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in Ann Arbor. He plans to continue his studies in periodontal surgery, hopefully pursuing a PhD in oral biological sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduation, he hopes to practice a few days a week and then continue research into diagnostic cancer biomarkers in the head and neck.

“I’ll let the path decide,” he said. “I’ll pray about it (until then).”

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