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Mom Was Motivation for Student Jack Kang to Pursue Dentistry

Jack Kang was inspired to pursue dentistry by his mother. Upon graduation, he plans to work in a private practice.


Jack Kang’s mother was his inspiration to pursue dentistry.

“During her childhood, there was not enough emphasis on oral health, and as a consequence, she did not have the proper instruction to maintain her teeth,” Kang said. “When the dire state of her oral health became apparent, she learned about the numerous procedures that she needed to correct her smile. The list included extractions, root canals, fillings, crowns, and a partial denture. For years, I witnessed my mother’s timidity when it came to the appearance of her smile, and it has been astounding to see her shift in confidence.”

Kang, who will graduate from the College of Dentistry in May, was born in Beijing, China, but considers Memphis home. He received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Kang became acquainted with UTHSC while participating in the Tennessee Institute of Pre-Professionals (TIP) summer program during his undergraduate years. “I was exposed to the dental school’s facilities, such as the GEB laboratories and the Dunn Dental Clinic,” he said. “I also met many of the dental school’s friendly faculty members, including Dr. Covington, our dean of admissions. The TIP program also worked closely with SASSI, which provided us with academic support, such as textbooks, study aids, and counseling services. Lastly, Memphis is my hometown. Being close to my family was an important factor drawing me to the UTHSC College of Dentistry.”

Kang is heavily involved in community outreach. “Community outreach is a huge part of dentistry, because a patient’s inability to pay should not hinder their access to dental care,” he said. “One way I give back as a dental student is by volunteering through Remote Area Medical, a free dental clinic serving the underprivileged. We have an active chapter here at UTHSC that organizes trips to these clinics. I am always moved when a patient gives me a hug and tells me how much they appreciate me. These responses from patients gave me genuine satisfaction as a future health care professional.”

At UTHSC, Kang serves as president of the American Dental Education Association. “Our goal is to provide the education aspect of dentistry to dental students, and we do so by inviting guest speakers to talk about topics such as residencies, continuing education courses, and research,” he said. “I feel that by learning practical knowledge that is not taught in the classrooms, we will be better equipped to face the real world of dentistry. My position has not only allowed me to become better in my leadership skills, but also allowed me to connect with other students and professionals in ways like never before.”

After graduation, Kang plans to become an associate dentist in a private practice. “I do not want to stop learning,” he said. “Placing dental implants and utilizing the latest dental technology are on the top of my list of continuing education credits that I want to pursue. My ultimate goal is to one day build my own private practice and foster long-lasting relationships with my patients and their families.”

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