Josh Dorsett - Class of 2018
Hi Josh! We heard you love to play golf. Tell us about how you got interested in playing?
Golf is definitely one of my favorite things to do. I started playing during my freshman year of college when my roommates would invite me (I was AWFUL). I think one of the reasons I kept coming back to it was because I hated how bad I was at it, and I just wanted to get better. I have been playing as much as I can ever since.
What’s been your favorite course to play on?
That’s easy… FarmLinks in Sylacauga. The place is incredible.
What has been your best personal score?
80. I’m pretty proud of that considering where I was when I started a few years ago. The goal every time I play is to break 80 (and/or beat Austyn Grissom which usually isn’t too hard).
How have you made time during our busy schedule to play?
There’s definitely plenty of time to play as a dental student if you are disciplined. Going to the range or out on the course to play 9 is always a good study break. There’s always the weekends, too. Saturdays are for anything but studying/school so that’s usually my favorite day to play. Dental school would be miserable if you didn’t allow yourself to have a little fun every once in a while.
What advice do you have for a dental student who is interested in learning how to play while in dental school?
Find friends in your class that you enjoy being around and just go out and play as much as possible.
Grant Talbert - Class of 2018
Hi Grant!! We heard that you like to hunt and fish and have trained your cute puppy, Abe, to be a bird dog! What kind of dog is Abe and how old was he when he started training?
Abe is a chocolate lab. I began training him at 8 weeks old when we first got him. Training began very basic focusing on obedience. As he matured I began incorporating training for duck hunting.
How did you become interested in bird hunting?
Hunting and fishing have always been a huge part of my family. I have been going hunting with my two brothers and dad since I was 4 years old. Back in those days I was just shooting a BB gun beside one of them and trying to claim all the birds.
Could you tell us about the process for training?
They naturally want to retrieve, but it is up to you to teach them to do it the right way. To train a dog everything is broken down into small steps that build on each other. Instilling that love and drive of retrieving into your dog is key in the beginning. Everything else really involves playing on the dogs desire to retrieve and incorporating hunting and obedience.
What was the most challenging aspect of training little Abe?
The hardest part was probably putting in the time before and after school. It’s not always easy trying to balance training, school and family time. My alarm is usually set at 4:15 in the morning to make sure I have time to train Abe before school.
What advice do you have for a dental student who would like to get started with training a hunting dog?
Start getting used to getting up really early! It’s takes a lot of time and effort but in the end it is very rewarding to see all the hard work payoff in the duck blind.
Marteki Codjoe - Class of 2018
Hi Marteki! We heard that you love to cook and are really talented! Tell us about how you learned to cook.
Wow, thank you so much! It all started with my mom; she really instilled cooking in my blood. My family is Ghanaian (West African), so that’s all we ate—Ghanaian food (we never ate American food). All of our meals were made from scratch and mostly from fresh ingredients. We only went out to eat a few times a year for special occasions, so as you can see, home-cooked meals were the norm. Because that is all I saw at home, I would watch my mom, asked her questions, and she taught me many of the things I know today.
I started getting more into cooking around my junior year in college. I lived in an apartment that had a kitchen, and I didn’t have a meal plan for the first time, so I basically had no choice. I was broke college student tired of the mundane and unhealthy choices at the food hall.
Honestly, I learned through a whole lot of trial and error with tons of experimenting. I started cooking Ghanaian meals, since that’s what I knew. My mom never measured any of her ingredients and would just eyeball everything she used to cook a meal. It took some practice to get to that point, but I eventually got pretty comfortable with that and, now, that’s how I operate.
As time progressed, I started expanding to cooking different types of food. I would search Pintrest for recipes and watch YouTube videos to learn how to make different things. I definitely still have a LOT more to learn!
What is your most favorite food/meal to cook?
Man that is hard!!!!!!! FOOD IS LIFE! If you know me, you’ll know that I live for food and love to cook/try new things. I can’t choose just one, so I’ll name a few. I love making fried plantains with bean stew, a popular Ghanaian dish. I enjoy making salmon, asparagus, fried rice, chicken wings, guacamole…. I enjoy it all!
Where do you get your inspirations?
As mentioned before, my mom really inspired me to cook in the first place. When I eat her cooking, I’m still inspired to do better because I’m still not as good as her! Pintrest is great for new recipes, and YouTube has an endless amount of videos. I love watching Seonkyoung Longest!
I get inspired in random ways. For example, if I don’t feel like going to the grocery store, I will look at what I have and try to come up with something creative based on my limited ingredients. On the other hand, if I do go to the store with no agenda, I randomly come across one item that “inspires” me and base my entire meal around it (ex. curry powder – I’ll make curry chicken, rice, and vegetables).
How do you manage to always have cooked meals for lunch and dinner while combatting the busy schedule of dental school?
I make it a priority because food is SUPER important to me! It gives me energy, it’s fun to eat, and I love everything about it!
It’s funny because the other night, it was late in the evening and I was tired and NOT in the mood to cook. Then I thought to myself, “If I don’t cook, I’m going to have to eat a sandwich for lunch.” I cringed at that thought and immediately changed my mind.
I love to create when it comes to food, plus it’s a source of stress relief for me when it comes to the craziness of school.
What is some advice you have for a dental student who is looking to learn how to cook or step outside of their comfort zone of making Ramen noodles?
James Cunningham - Class of 2018
Hi James! We know that you played the bass guitar for the senior class band, Steel City, for a few years now. Tell us about how you guys decided to start up.
Steel City started with the idea of getting some classmates together to play a song at the Variety Show our D1 year. That never materialized, but we revisited the idea shortly thereafter when a couple of us were invited to play some songs at the ASDA Crawfish Boil. I don’t remember who was initially asked, but I was eventually asked to play bass with Alex, Nathan, and Mac. We had planned to only learn four to five songs for the event, but oddly enough we landed another gig during our first practice. While we were in the middle of the second or third song we had ever played together, an employee of a non-profit organization walked up to the garage and hired us to play for an upcoming fundraising event. All of a sudden we needed to add about twenty songs to our repertoire for this other event. That gave us the motivation to start playing and practicing more frequently, and by the time that event had passed we had more gigs lined up. We decided to make a go at having a band in dental school, and we’ve kept at it ever since.
What kind of events have you guys played?
Outside of playing at school functions, such as the Crawfish Boil and Miles for Smile, the majority of our events have been wedding receptions. We have also played at fundraising events for the UAB Alumni Association and non-profit organizations.
How long have you played the bass guitar? And have you ever played any other instruments?
I started playing guitar in high school when most of my friends started getting in to listening and playing music. I continue to play guitar today, but I picked up the bass guitar in about 2009 when my friends and I decided to start a band to play at bars and events around Tuscaloosa. We had three guitarists, but no bassist. I wasn’t as good at the guitar as the other two guys so I went out and bought a bass and fell in to that roll by default. I’ve been my main instrument ever since. I’m also working on playing the piano, but I’m far from being respectable at it right now.
Have you ever had private lessons?
I had a handful of private lessons for the guitar while I was in high school, but other than that I’ve learned everything else on my own.
What is your favorite song to play?
My favorite song to play with Steel City is “Bring it on Home to Me” by Sam Cooke. It’s a fun, relatively simple song to play on the bass, and it has an air of nostalgia for us as band mates. It’s one of the first songs we played together, and it continues to be one of the best songs we play together as a band. For some reason it always takes me on a trip down memory lane through our time together as a band, and reminds of just how much fun being in this band with my classmates has been.
What advice do you have for a dental student who wants to start a band while in school?
Start the band sometime around the end of D1 year or the beginning of D2 year with people in your class. Making room in your schedule for practice is tough, but it’ll be easier if everyone at least has the same school schedule. That particular time in dental school wasn’t as demanding for us, and it allowed us to make time to practice.
Julie Dean - Class of 2018
Hi Julie!! We heard that you have one heck of a voice and have been in the process for trying out for The Church of the Highlands choir. Could you tell us about the experience? (how many hours per week and how many weeks and what the practices/auditions consist of)
Sure thing! I auditioned to be a vocalist for Church of the Highlands’ worship team last summer, and I am currently involved in a program called Infuse, a training program all musicians and production team members go through after the audition process. This training involves some basic music theory lessons, group vocal training, and lots of on-stage worship experience. I never realized how much preparation goes into the worship services until I began this process! Leading worship at Church of the Highlands requires that you be completely comfortable with everything on stage—the in-ear monitors, the bright lights, the voice of the music director in your ear giving notes to the musicians during the set—so that you can fully focus on worshipping The Lord without Ricky Bobby-ing your way into an awkward hands situation. We have rehearsal every Thursday night, where we go through the following Sunday’s worship set (with the production team, as well) and receive feedback from the instructors. I have gotten the opportunity to sing at several Sunday services at various campuses around Birmingham (FYI, call time is 6:30 AM!!), and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve on this awesome team!
How old were you when found out that you could sing?
I think I started singing about the same time I started talking—now my family and friends can’t get me to stop doing either! Some of my earliest memories involve my grandmother teaching me how to sing “Amazing Grace,” and I would perform it at every family gathering until everyone finally got sick of hearing it. So I had to learn some new material.
Did you take any professional voice lessons?
I was a musical theatre major for two years in undergrad, so I had weekly voice lessons during that time. We did a lot of Italian arias and Broadway tunes. Every semester ended with a vocal jury, a graded performance in front of the entire music faculty… I still have nightmares about those!
Have you ever sung at special events like weddings, sports games, or talent shows?
I frequently sing at wedding ceremonies (mainly of family and friends), and I participate in the annual UABSOD Variety Show every year. I love singing at weddings, but it is definitely very nerve-racking. I would hate for someone to be watching the recording of the ceremony a few years down the road and be like, “Well no wonder that marriage failed, did you hear the singer??”
Do you have a specific routine you do before performing?
No matter where or what I’m singing, I always get lots of nervous energy. I’ve found that this is a good thing though, because it motivates me to do my best. To calm myself down, I take a walk or do a couple of jumping jacks beforehand. Not during the wedding though, I don’t want to be too winded once I get up there.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in trying out for a singing group while in dental school?
I say, “Go for it!” It’s always good to have interests and hobbies outside of school in order to keep yourself sane. While it will require some good time-management to juggle professional school while learning music and making it to rehearsals every week, it’s totally doable! And if you find that it’s not, then just drop out of dental school and work on your music full time!
Just kidding, stay in school.
Bright Chang - Class of 2019
Hi Bright! We know that apart from being a dental school student, you are a talented photographer and was recently spotlighted in the national ASDA magazine, “Contour”. Your photographs came in runner-up of a huge pool of applicants for the monthly photography contest this past month. Congratulations!! Could you tell us more about why you chose to capture these amazing moments?
To me, every moment in time only happens once. It’s my choice whether or not to capture that special moment and cherish it for the rest of my life. When I started college, I realized that I had really no way of sharing my experiences with the rest of the world aside from words. I wanted a way to visually share my experiences with my family and friends.
How long have you been interested in photography?
I enjoyed photography as a child but never had the opportunity to buy a nice camera until 2013. That’s when it all began. It’s been about 4 years since I started learning photography.
Have you taken any special classes to learn more techniques?
I haven’t taken any special classes to learn photography. I taught myself photography by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and talking to experienced photographers. The best photography class for me was to wander around the city and practice different techniques. The fun was in learning from mistakes that I made and trying to figure out a way to fix them.
What type of camera do you use?
I use DSLR Canon 70D and Mark III cameras. Both are great cameras but the difference boils down to whether it is a crop-size or full-size sensor. Because I really enjoy night photography, I bought a Mark III. Now, it’s the go-to camera. But I still use 70D for videography because of its more advanced auto-tracking features compared to Mark III.
What has been your favorite object/person to capture?
I really enjoy capturing anything and everything I can. But I think the most interesting photos that I like to capture are time-lapse photos. These photos are created by making light streaks during the day or night. I also enjoy capturing people's candid smiles at weddings, dances, and other events.
What is your advice to dental students who are interested in picking up photography while in school or refining their skills?
The best but simple advice for learning photography or any other hobbies and skills is to practice, practice, practice. If you are interested in learning something, you will always find a way to learn more about it. It’s just a matter of whether you want to spend your time and energy learning and improving that skill and whether you have the courage to ask for advice from those who have more experience than you.
Brian Ryu - Class of 2018
Hi Brian! We heard that you are a fantastic pianist. We would love to know how you realized that you liked to play the piano?
I first got exposed to the piano around the age of 7 when my mom forced me to take piano lessons. I hated playing the piano and kicked and screamed to not go to the lessons, but there was little that I could do. I continued to take lessons until I was 11 and quit. When I did a homestay in Canada in 2005, the family I stayed with had a piano. Listening to the kids in the house play the piano made me want to pick it up again, and I’ve been playing ever since.
Did you take private lessons and how old were you?
I was 7 when I first started.
Have you ever played at special events like weddings, talent shows, etc?
I have played in student recitals in college.
What is your most favorite composer of all time?
Chopin is my all time favorite. Probably more than 80% of what I play is by Chopin.
Bach is fun to play in a sense that I like how my fingers flow when I play Bach.
Rachmaninoff and Beethoven help me relieve stress as I get to bang on the piano hard.
What is your most favorite piece to play?
Liebestraum by Liszt.
Do you have time to practice while in school?
I definitely play less than when I was in high school and college, but I try to play a little bit after school to relax and during weekends.
What advice do you have for a student who wants to begin piano lessons while in dental school?
Rather than playing many different pieces at a mediocre level, pick a little challenging piece you want to play and take your time to really master it. I also struggle with moving on too quickly, but when my piano professor made me master one piece at a time, I really felt my skills improve.
Shruti Sonavane - Class of 2018
Hi Shruti! We heard that you recently had a beautiful baby boy, which means you were pregnant during dental school! How did you manage dental school responsibilities and mommy responsibilities?
The motivation to finish most of the requirements before baby is born and help from my colleagues kept me on track to accomplish my dental school responsibilities. For accomplishing my mommy responsibilities I can’t thank my husband enough.
What were your biggest obstacles you faced during your pregnancy?
Lab work and tiredness at the end of day especially during third trimester.
How did you mentally and physically overcome your obstacles?
I use to meditate and do some light stretching exercises before going to bed. I would also like to emphasis that workplace environment matters a lot during pregnancy. I am lucky to have wonderful classmates, faculty and staff. My classmates helped me a lot in number of ways right from sharing notes, swapping rotation to lending their own patient to complete my requirements. I love them all!
Everybody in school took such great care of me. Especially since I am so far away from my family in India, the concern and love that people at school had showed towards me made my pregnancy a breeze.
How long were you away from school?
Was it hard to come back after your time off?
It was difficult but since I had my mom take care of the little one at home the transition was easier
What advice do you have for other females who are thinking about becoming a mom while in dental school?
If you want to be pregnant, 4th year is better. Have a list of requirements and a deadline set at least 15 days before your expected date (I delivered Ansh 3 weeks before ED) and work towards it!!
Clark McLemore - Class of 2018
Hi Clark! We heard you like doing outdoor activities when not at school! What are you favorite activities?
I love doing almost anything outdoors. I really enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. Anything to get me away from downtown Birmingham and the dental school.
How long have you liked to hunt and fish?
I have been fishing since before I can even remember, my parents say I caught my first fish when I was 3. I didn’t start hunting until I was about 11 or 12 when I could use a gun.
What is the largest fish you have caught? What is the largest deer you have shot?
I caught about a 7 foot bull shark in Destin last December. The biggest deer I’ve killed was an 11 point.
There is a lot of work that goes into deer season. What do you have to do in order to prepare, and how do you balance your hobbies and dental school?
I spend a lot of time and effort preparing for the fall and winter hunting seasons. Most of the work involves driving a tractor to cut and plow fields, maintaining stands and roads on the property, and keeping game cameras out from the summer through spring to track wildlife activity while I’m not around.
What is your advice for students interested in beginning outdoor activities while in dental school?
For me the outdoors is my escape from school and the stresses of life, it helps me decompress. Oak Mountain State Park, Ruffner Mountain Park, and Red Mountain Park are just a few of the many places around Birmingham that someone can get out and start enjoying the great outdoors.
Austyn Grissom - Class of 2018
Hi Austyn! We heard that you went on a mission trip this summer! Where did you go and for how long?
I went to Trujillo, Honduras for 10 days at the beginning of our summer break.
Who did you go on the trip with?
There were 95 people on the mission with us. The group was made up of surgeons, nurses, optometrists, speech pathologists, pharmacists, and many others who were willing to serve.
What type of procedures did you do? How many patients were treated?
Our dental team was administering fluoride treatments and extracting teeth. We treated a different village each day; we were able to see over 300 patients and extracted 490 teeth.
Could you tell us about the conditions you worked in?
Our clinic was set up in a building that a church from Ohio built about 10 years ago. The church actually had medical & dental missionaries working in that facility full time for several years so the setup was pretty nice and similar to what we have in the States, minus the central air-conditioning and running water.
What was your favorite part?
The people. They were so happy to have us there and grateful for the care that we were able to provide to them. No matter how hot it was or how long they had to wait, there was always going to be a hug, handshake, or “gracias” at the end of the procedure.
What was your least favorite part?
The communication barrier. Even though we had a couple of awesome translators, it still takes an aspect of patient care away when you’re communicating through a third party.
What is your advice for anyone who is looking to go on a mission trip while in dental school?