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Growing up, I enjoyed repairing things. It felt rewarding to restore computers, airsoft guns, simple machines, and more. During high school, my dentist, Dr. Scott Adkisson DDS, allowed me to shadow him to see what his profession was like. I was instantly hooked! I watched him move in and out of rooms as he helped countless people. The patients seemed to appreciate his work. He would smile and laugh all day explaining procedures as he went, and I suspected if I could study hard enough, I too could become a dentist and find similar joy in the restoration and maintenance of teeth.

I graduated High School and went to East Tennessee State University to study chemistry with hopes of gaining acceptance into a dental school. During college, I visited dental schools across the country to see where I may fit in the best or who I'd like to learn from. The schools were different in many ways, but all had the same problem; they were outrageously expensive. I knew I would need a way to pay for living expenses, tuition, etc., while attending. I had never taken any loans and didn't have any rich uncles to pay the bill, so I called an Army recruiter to see if the US government had any interest in an aspiring dentist. The recruiter introduced me to the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which would pay for the entirety of dental school, provide a living stipend, and offer a supportive clinical environment after graduation to repay the service obligation. I was accepted to attend the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and submitted my packet for the Army HPSP program. I still feel very fortunate to have been accepted to both programs and am grateful for the opportunities Louisville and the United States Army gave me.

After four years of dental school, I got my first duty assignment at Fort Eustis, Virginia. We had a great command team and encouraging senior officers who supported us young Captains to strive for clinical excellence and constantly push our skill set to expand. I'll forever appreciate the Fort Eustis Dentac for continually funding and encouraging our clinic's CAD/CAM restorative department. We were able to scan, design, and mill nearly all of our soldiers' restorative needs within a single dental appointment. The technology was state of the art and allowed us to predictably meet all of our operational needs.

Once my four-year service obligation was satisfied, I was given my DD 214. This meant I could be a civilian once again. I moved back to Knoxville, TN, with my family and purchased Dr. Ashley Sullivan's dental practice in East Knoxville. I was able to take a loan and buy the entire CEREC® CAD/CAM suite to do same-day crowns in a single appointment, just like I did in the Army.

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