Class Year: 2022
Program/Major: School of Dental Medicine DMD
“Whatever you want to do, you can find a way to do it.” That’s how School of Dental Medicine student Thimanthi Withana describes her approach to new opportunities.
As a rising fourth-year student in the Doctor of Dental Medicine program, Withana’s resume boasts a wide variety of experiences, ranging from research studies to extracurricular leadership positions and tennis.
During her undergraduate education at Chapman University in Orange, California, Withana knew she wanted to work in health care but was hoping a career in tennis might be an option. However, an unexpected injury ultimately led her to dentistry.
Growing up in Sri Lanka, Withana initially had a very different view of the dental profession. After shadowing dental professionals in office and hospital settings, she experienced first-hand all that dentistry has to offer.
“When I moved to the United States at 14 years old, that was the beginning point where I saw the contrast between how the industry is practiced here,” said Withana. “It’s more of a preventive measure. [In Sri Lanka], it was more problem-focused. Someone would come in at the last possible moment and wouldn’t have a lot of options.”
Withana’s inquisitive approach and passion for helping others have opened new opportunities at Case Western Reserve University. She serves as vice president of the Desi Dental Students Club, the university’s American Dental Education Association chapter and the newly formed Research Club. In addition, she is involved with research programs in Craniofacial Orthodontics, and Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences.
In the future, Withana hopes to specialize in orthodontics and continue her research efforts, with the potential to return to Sri Lanka and focus on expanding the integration of 3D imaging into traditional orthodontics practices.