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The Michigan Dental Association Foundation proudly presents a recipient of the 2012-13 Academic year, Michigan Dental Association Foundation George Bletsas Scholarship, to Eric Harrison from Plymouth, Michigan. The Foundation had the opportunity to chat with the recipient and would like to share some of his 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 attend the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry and will become a fourth year dental student in May 2013. I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1997-2001 when I received my Bachelor’s of Science in industrial and operations engineering.

Why did you want to become a dental professional?

My wife’s cousin Al Abdelnour, DDS planted the seed in my mind. He thought my heart wasn’t in an engineering career and he said that I would make a great dentist because I enjoy talking to people and I could use my engineering background while treating patients on a daily basis.

Who inspired/mentored you along the way?

My parents, William and Laura Harrison, have been my life mentors for my entire life. My wife, Elise Harrison, has been my “live-in” support from the time we were married in 2007. My wife’s cousin, Jeff Abdelnour, has also encouraged me through the hard times of getting the momentum going to go back and take prerequisite courses for dental school.

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

If you want it bad enough, you will get there, just keep doing everything you can and never give up.

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

Talk to actual dentists and dental students to keep learning about dentistry. Also, visit a variety of dental offices and dental schools and look at the eyes of the dental staff and students to see how passionate they are about dentistry.

What do you enjoy the most about dentistry?

I see it as a win-win-win profession. If you practice dentistry properly, you can provide a great service to people in need, have a fun challenge in doing it, employ people as a small business owner, and have enough time to enjoy your own family.

What do you enjoy the most about dentistry?

I see it as a win-win-win profession. If you practice dentistry properly, you can provide a great service to people in need, have a fun challenge in doing it, employ people as a small business owner, and have enough time to enjoy your own family.

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

One of my emergency patients that I extracted a tooth for said to me, “I was worried about having a dental student pull my tooth, but this was the best experience I have ever had at the dentist.”

Is there one procedure you enjoy the most?

I enjoy extracting teeth and suturing up afterwards. It is enjoyable to have a patient say, that the extraction really wasn’t that bad at all.

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

This scholarship has helped me by lightening the financial load of taking out loans to pay for dental school, my home mortgage, feeding my family, paying for transportation traveling to school, and the general costs of running a home.

Where do you see yourself in six months after graduation?

I plan on working as a general dentist associate for my wife’s cousin, Dr. Al Abdelnour at Levan Dental Group in Livonia, Mich. I also plan on teaching clinical dentistry part time at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry.

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

Owning and running a private dental office as a general practitioner, possibly with an associate, in the greater Detroit area. Continuing to teach at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. Having a family with three kids and enjoying more time with my family and friends.

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?

Sure, I can see myself working for the MDA and lobbying on the national level. I would like to lobby for dentistry and help mold the profession, as it will inevitably change in the coming years.

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

I enjoy playing the guitar to relax. I also enjoy gardening in my yard with my wife and reading books to my daughter Norah. It has been a while, but I do like to snowboard whenever I can get a chance.

Thank you for a glimpse into the life of a Michigan Dental Association Foundation George Bletsas 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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