Students University

Closing the gap between ‘dreaming’ and ‘doing’

Jessie Yuan, B.S./D.M.D.

While most eight-year-old girls usually have fun with tea parties and playing with their doll’s hair, Jessie Yuan found it more interesting to play dentist on her stuffed animals.

Since the third grade, Yuan has always had a desire of becoming either an orthodontist or prosthodontist, and she attributes her passion for oral health to her own experiences of visiting dental specialists to correct her underbite. All of her successful treatments inspired her to enter dentistry and ultimately attend the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University.

I will never forget how my orthodontist and prosthodontist helped me and I want to give back by helping others who are in similar situations as me.

— Jessie Yuan

“My teeth aren’t the best and I even have a few of my baby teeth,” Yuan said. “I will never forget how my orthodontist and prosthodontist helped me and I want to give back by helping others who are in similar situations as me.”

Yuan’s journey of studying dentistry at Augusta University started four years ago when she was a high school senior who changed her mind about attending Johns Hopkins University to pursue Augusta’s B.S./D.M.D. program.

This high-achieving twenty-one-old became a part of the program’s first cohort, which allows her to earn a bachelor of science and dental degree in seven years.

Students in this program that meet certain benchmarks throughout their undergraduate coursework will be guaranteed a seat in the Dental College of Georgia – without having to go through the usual admissions process after the third year of college.

Yuan entered the B.S./D.M.D. program three years ago and is now in her first year at the Dental College of Georgia and she’ll be graduating May 11 with a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Students in this program engage in a rigorous curriculum that exceeds the requirements of the usual pre-dental requirements and participate in special opportunities such as volunteering, clinical exposure and research, says Dr. Carol Lefebvre, dean of the Dental College of Georgia. Faculty in the DCG and the College of Science and Mathematics worked together to develop the curriculum.

The goal of this program is to make the transition as seamless as possible and to make Augusta University a destination of choice  – where students like Yuan come to complete their undergrad and dental degrees, not just one or the other.

— Dean Carol Lefebvre

“Yuan is just one of several great students we have in this program. Jesse has worked as a tutor and in a research lab in addition to putting in the work to maintain the required grade point average throughout. I am proud of the research and volunteer work she did as an undergraduate,” said Lefebvre. “The goal of this program is to make the transition as seamless as possible and to make Augusta University a destination of choice  – where students like Yuan come to complete their undergrad and dental degrees, not just one or the other.”

Lefebvre also says the program provides students opportunities for counseling, Dental Admissions Test preparation, and other clinical or research experiences over the course of their undergrad careers. For the last two years, Yuan has been conducting research with Augusta University periodontist Dr. Roger Arce to study periodontal disease and gingivitis, and she also participated in a two-month internship at the dental equipment maker Dentsply Sirona USA, where she tested impression materials.

Yuan’s happy place seems to be in the lab — so much so that she has decided to forgo her summer break to spend time continuing her oral biology research on periodontal disease. She says she does not regret making that decision, since she is focused on staying ahead of the curve in dental school.

“When you have a dream, you have to be dedicated to putting in the work, and I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research,” said Yuan. “Since having these experiences as an undergraduate, I feel more prepared for the coursework I have in dental school and I’m excited about what is to come.”

Yuan is from Atlanta and hopes to practice dentistry in Georgia.

At Augusta University, success is a choice.

This spring, we celebrate graduating seniors by recognizing students who are choosing to better themselves and their communities in 2018.

Celebrate with these members of Jaguar Nation and the entire Class of 2018 using the hashtag #AUGGRAD.

Follow in Jessie’s footsteps:

Learn more about the B.S./D.M.D. offered at Augusta University.

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About the author

Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris is Senior Media Relations Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-7511 or deharris1@augusta.edu.