Fourth-Year Dental Student Says Being a Dentist Something to Smile About

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Julian Smith enjoys all facets of the dental profession. Upon graduation, he hopes to secure an orthodontic residency.(Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

A visit to the orthodontist in Huntsville, Alabama, sparked Julian Brandt Smith’s desire to be a dentist.

“I’ll never forget sitting in Dr. Charles Graham’s office, watching him move from patient to patient, a smile on his face every second,” Smith said. “I remember thinking, he looks like he genuinely loves what he does. When he sat down beside me, still smiling that same smile, I said to him, ‘I think I want to do what you do one day.’ He laughed, and said, ‘Well, when you get through organic chemistry in college, I want you to come back and see me.’ ” Nearly a decade later, Smith did just that.

Smith, now a fourth-year dental student at UTHSC, grew up in Pulaski, Tennessee. His parents were educators. “My dad was the principal of my middle school, later becoming the director of schools, and my mother was a senior English teacher for 42 years,” Smith said. “Like many parents, they both wanted more for me than they ever had.”

He attended Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. Next, he earned a master’s in biotechnology, and eventually was accepted to UTHSC.

Smith has always had a heart for helping others. “I have been truly blessed with support and encouragement since I started this journey, which has resulted in a deep desire to give back,” he said. “Luckily for me, I have had the opportunities to do for others, all the while gaining experience in the field I love. All it took was for me to watch an orthodontist smile at work to change my life.”

“UTHSC was always the first choice, mainly because of its location and the in-state tuition, Smith said. “I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Covington while I was in my master’s program at MTSU. The fact that he had taken time out of his schedule to meet with me to discuss my future as a potential student meant a lot. After that, I knew UTHSC was the choice for me.”

Smith has been a part of the summer research program at UTHSC, receiving awards for presentations, and has been selected twice to represent the college nationally. He is also a member of the American Student Dental Association, the UTHSC Esthetics Club, Xi Psi Phi dental fraternity, and the IMHOTEP Society.

“I have been the D1 representative, vice president, and president of Xi Psi Phi,” Smith said. “Our fraternity has created annual fund-raising opportunities for the youth in Memphis through various dental school events, one being ZIP Idol, a competition between a faculty band and dental student musicians. On the grand scale of things, this is very little, but if we can help just one child in need, we have succeeded. It’s important for us as health care professionals to inspire the youth, especially here in the Memphis community, to aspire for more in life.”

Smith is involved with the St. Jude Target House, where he helps serve dinner to families in need who are awaiting treatment, as well as with the Mid-South Mission of Mercy, which provides free dental services to the underserved in the Memphis community. He lends a hand back home in Pulaski during Free Dental Day.

After graduation, Smith hopes to secure an orthodontic residency. “Obviously, it would feel like life had come full circle for me if I were to be accepted,” he said. “If I am not accepted, I will be happy being a general dentist here in Tennessee. I am in love with everything that comes with being a general dentist. From fillings, to root canals, to crowns, to dentures, there is no part of dentistry I don’t enjoy. I am going to wear that same smile as Dr. Charles Graham regardless.”

Note: This story is from the most recent issue of Dentistry magazine.