When Kyle Hunt ’10 received his admission acceptance letter from Gustavus, a family friend told him that Gustavus would teach him how to think. “For some reason that struck a chord with me at the time and I can still remember it to this day,” Hunt said. “He was very right. Being a liberal arts college, Gustavus does a great job of making sure their students are well-rounded and that they know how to think.”
In the eight and a half years that have passed since that conversation took place, Hunt has received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, completed dental school at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and started his career as a dentist at Personal Care Dentistry in Roseville. He is part of a growing list of Gustavus alumni who have taken advantage of one of the College’s pre-professional tracks—in this case the College’s pre-dental program.
“Gustavus has a number of strong science departments, and I was really pushed as a student during my four years as a chemistry major. Although difficult at times, it made dental school a much easier transition for me,” Hunt said. “I would strongly recommend any student considering dental school to consider Gustavus. Having such a strong science background from Gustavus made me much more prepared and ready to handle the dental school workload. The biology and chemistry courses at Gustavus were on par, if not more in depth, than some of my dental school courses.”
In addition to the academic knowledge that Hunt received at Gustavus, he also grew in other important areas due to his involvement on campus with organizations such as the Peer Assistants, the Sexual Assault Education Team (SAET), the Epsilon Pi Alpha fraternity, and the Gustavus Pre-Dental Club. His time as a P.A. and as a member of SAET allowed Hunt to work closely with Gustavus staff members Judy Douglas and Patty Dawson—two people who he now considers to be important mentors.
“Judy really helped me develop my interpersonal and leadership skills and she also worked extensively with us to become excellent communicators. The communication skills I learned from her have turned out to be invaluable to me as a practitioner,” Hunt said. “As one of the only student members on SAET, Patty really instilled a lot of confidence in me, and taught me to have a voice amongst a group of administrators and faculty.”
While Hunt admits that coursework is a large component of being successful in dental school and as a professional, he also maintains that becoming a well-rounded individual is just as important.
“With all of the organizations you can join, variety of classes offered, study abroad opportunities, and diversity amongst the students, you really become a well-rounded individual at Gustavus,” Hunt said. “You will deal with patients from all walks of life as a dentist, and the more well-rounded you are, the better you will be able to connect with the patients you serve.”
When it came time to apply for dental school, Hunt’s resume from Gustavus made him an attractive candidate. Out of 1,200 out-of-state applicants the year he applied, Hunt was one of six students accepted at the University of Illinois-Chicago in a class of 68 students.
“I chose UIC because it is a very strong program and it sees more patients than any other dental school in the country,” Hunt said. “I really wanted to have a strong clinical experience before going into private practice, so going to UIC allowed me to see a large number of patients during the two and a half years I was in clinic.”
Getting into dental school is no easy task. According to data from the American Dental Education Association, in 2013 there were 12,162 applicants to various dental schools across the country and only 5,769 matriculants, for an acceptance rate of 47 percent. In comparison, pre-dental students in the class of 2014 at Gustavus achieved an acceptance rate of 72 percent.
Erik Blomquist ’14 is in the middle of his first year of dental school at the University of Iowa. He credits the small classroom settings at Gustavus and close relationships with professors as two of the reasons why he was able to realize his goal of attending dental school.
“One course that was particularly helpful in preparing me for dental school was Quantitative Chemical Analysis with Dr. Dwight Stoll, where I had a chance to improve my manual dexterity skills by working on accuracy and precision in lab,” Blomquist said. “Heather Banks, the pre-health adviser, helped me greatly along my journey to apply to dental school, from conducting a mock interview with me to helping me make my personal statement the best that it could be.”
Megan Raiber ’14, a first year dental student at the University of Minnesota, echoed Blomquist’s and Hunt’s sentiments about how Gustavus prepared her for dental school.
“Having now started my first year of dental school, I can truly say that I am very lucky to have received a Gustavus education,” Raiber said. “My classes at Gustavus challenged me and pushed me to dive deeper into the material, beyond the general processes and outlines and into the small details that tie everything together.”
Cameron Clause ’14 is another first-year dental student at the University of Iowa. Like Hunt, he says a combination of coursework in the chemistry department and being involved in activities like Gustie Greeters, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and G.O.L.D., has led him to where he is today.
“I was able to do a lot of personal development through these programs and classes, learning about my strengths as an individual and how to incorporate them into my career,” Clause said. “My chemistry adviser, Amanda Nienow, helped a lot with planning the right classes to take in order to meet the requirements for dental school. I also worked with Heather Banks to improve my interviewing skills and my personal statement. Gustavus definitely played a large role in my application and acceptance into dental school.”
In three years, Blomquist, Raiber, and Clause all hope to be where Hunt is today: helping others, one smile at a time. He now works with his father, Dr. Walter Hunt, who founded Personal Care Dentistry in 1977. At PCD, the Hunt’s practice what they call the golden rule of dentistry: to treat each patient as they would want to be treated.
“Gustavus really prepared me for a life of serving others and dentistry is a vehicle for me to do that,” Hunt said. “Your smile is the first thing people notice about you, and it’s pretty special to help people feel confident about their smiles. As Dr. Seuss said, “Teeth are always in style.”
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin