Feb. 4 officially marked that our DMD class of 2022 is 100 days away from graduation!
In celebration, over the course of the 100 days we’ll be featuring our graduating seniors’ accomplishments as part of a spotlight series. Each week, a new feature article will be added to this page and highlighted on our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram pages.
If you would like to be included in this recognition, complete the brief questionnaire and submit your favorite professional photo.
Favorite quote: “Growth and learning is a life-long process.”
At the age of 14, graduating DMD student Priya Shah was already an entrepreneur, working as a henna artist in a business she created.
“My first job was as a self-employed henna artist,” said Shah. “I would apply intricate temporary tattoo designs on my clients. The business developed my love for craftsmanship and a deep appreciation for service.”
During high school, she also developed an interest in healthcare sciences. When pondering a career path, Shah was drawn to dentistry—a field which combines entrepreneurship, artistry and science. As a senior in high school, Shah applied to the Case Western Reserve University Pre-Professional Scholars Program for an accelerated undergraduate-to-DMD academic track.
“CWRU’s prioritization of a strong didactic foundation as well as the community of supportive and kind academic and clinical faculty inspired me to apply to this program,” said Shah.
Shah’s foundation as an artist is what makes her approach to dentistry unique, utilizing her eye for aesthetics while creating the beautiful smiles she believes everyone deserves.
“The primary contributor to my perspective in dental treatment is rooted in my identity as an artist,” said Shah. “Depending on their background and training, some people’s eyes are calibrated to approach problems from an engineering standpoint, for example, or from a purely medical or biological standpoint. Personally, when it comes time to craft the final restoration of a patient’s mouth, I always find myself going the extra mile to make the work as aesthetically pleasing as possible.”
After graduation, Shah will continue her training through an Orthodontics Residency and M.S. in Oral Sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Brian Michael Johnson
Favorite Quote: “There is nothing worse than to travel with someone who cannot see the ludicrous in any happening.”
Late nights in the old west lab in the Dental Research Building were exhausting for graduating DMD student Brian Michael Johnson, but now he looks back on those as his favorite times at the School of Dental Medicine.
“It seemed so tedious at the time,” said Johnson. “But I built a lot of friendships there.”
Building relationships is what Johnson has loved the most about the SODM—with everyone from the students to the professors—and working with people is the reason he gravitated toward dentistry in the first place. Dental medicine gives him the opportunity to improve the lives of others.
“Dentistry gives me the ability to do work that I am genuinely excited about and honored to do,” he said.
After graduation, Johnson plans to either continue his education by attending the SODM Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program or go straight to work in private practice.
Favorite Quote: “Don’t forget to enjoy the ride.”
Ashleigh Kmentt loves dentistry not just for the care she can provide to her patients, but for the relationships she can build.
“I look forward to the opportunity to be not only a health care provider, but also a positive mentor to my patients,” said Kmentt.
Kmentt chose Case Western Reserve University for her dental studies because it was important to her to follow in her father’s footsteps, who is also a dentist, in the city she loves and calls home.
Reflecting on her time at the School of Dental Medicine, Kmentt thought fondly about her classmates and the bond they have created.
“I will miss the wonderful friendships I have made with my peers and faculty!” she said. “I will never forget how uniquely collegial my class has always been. We fundamentally respect each other, and we have created far more of a family environment than I ever could have imagined.”
Following graduation, Kmentt will pursue a residency in Orthodontics at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill before returning to Cleveland to practice with her father.
Favorite quote: "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" - Edith Wharton
Nisha Maheshwari’s father is a doctor and had a great influence on her while she was growing up. However, she wanted autonomy and a good work-life balance—something dentistry could offer her that medicine could not.
“Dentistry checked all the boxes,” she said. “Dentistry requires mastery of science and technical skill, as well as the ability to think creatively. Simply put, dentistry is fulfilling. I enjoy the fact that you can have long-term relationships with people—you essentially grow old together.”
Maheshwari’s favorite aspect of her time at the School of Dental Medicine is her classmates.
“Where else can you gather together a group this big, and have this kind of exchange of knowledge, while still feeling a sense of camaraderie when you see someone else in the hall in hunter green scrubs? I think that’s pretty special and something to cherish”, she said.
Maheshwari’s plans after graduation include staying in her home city of Cleveland, and working in a private practice on the east side.
Favorite quote: Perfection is the enemy of progress. -Winston Churchill
Becky Farag chose the CWRU School of Dental Medicine so she could remain close to home in the city she loves while still able to study dentistry.
“I will miss my friends and preceptors the most after graduation!” said Farag.
Dentistry excited her because of its multifaceted nature.
“I have always been interested in medicine, and I love that dentistry is artistic while still being an integral part of a person’s health,” she said. “I like the new techniques and research we’re learning in the field that have been helping us save teeth, and restore their longevity.”
When she graduates, Farag is looking to start her general practice residency at Cleveland Clinic Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio.
Calliannie Dixon Reidenbach
Favorite quote: I am not what has happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” -C.G. Jung
Calliannie Dixon Reidenbach’s father is an alumnus of the School of Dental Medicine so before committing to dental school, legacy student Reidenbach was able to work within the dental field for several years.
“It opened my eyes to the impact you can make within a community and within an individual’s life,” she said. “What excites me most about dentistry is seeing the change in confidence and demeanor of a person when they are happy with their smile.”
When asked about her time at the SODM, Reidenbach said that being able to bring her children to class was a very meaningful aspect of her studies.
“Professors were always more than accommodating and my kids were always so excited to be involved!” she said. “I will miss the rapport between the clinic’s preceptors and myself, and the relationships I have built within the school.”
After graduating, Reidenbach plans to purchase a private practice in a small town just south of Cleveland, so that she can work alongside her father.