Why do you want to be a dentist?
My interest in dentistry exploded throughout my high school years as I first began shadowing in various offices. I loved the intricate work of general dentists and also the opportunity that dentistry provides to be a leader and passionate care provider in my community. However, I constantly found myself longing for more out of my future dental career. Soon after planning and leading a prom for children and adults with special needs in eastern North Carolina, I unearthed a desire to focus my career on advancing dentistry for those with mental and physical disabilities, which has now expanded to include individuals who are overall medically compromised. I am so excited that through dentistry, I will be able to use my career as a means of giving back to my community.
What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader?
I believe the most vital quality is being able to motivate and boost the morale of the team behind you. As a leader, you can only do so much alone. With a solid, enthusiastic, and driven team behind you can achieve far more and foster leadership in those who follow in your footsteps.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in dental school so far?
There is no time to second guess yourself; you just have to jump in there and do it. This did not at all come naturally to me. However, I soon realized that the only way to improve and become a great dentist is to challenge yourself each and every day to try new things and push yourself to keep getting better.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Until about the time that I was a sophomore in college, I was incredibly quiet. I had held various leadership roles, but always struggled to find my voice and discover a deeper meaning behind why I desire to lead. Toward the end of my Sophomore year, I decided to attend a one-week leadership intensive at the LeaderShape Institute. Throughout the week, I continued to struggle to assert myself as a leader until the fourth day when we did an exercise on integrity. The activity involved splitting everyone up into three groups, which simulated the three economic classes in our society. We then dealt with a variety of rules that governed our ability to trade money. Throughout the activity, I watched as fellow aspiring leaders unethically tricked others into giving them more money. When it came time to discuss the activity, the frustration was boiling inside of me. I stood up and expressed my disappointment in the anonymous individuals in the room who were acting unethically. It was in this moment that I finally stepped out of my comfort zone and verbally stood up for what I believe in.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I was studying to take the Dental Admissions Test, I grew more and more anxious. Being a dentist was something I had wanted since I was seven years old, and it seemed to all come down to how well I performed on this one test. My grandfather happened to be visiting from California during this time, and he looked me in the eyes and said, “Kate, you are a McPherson. You can do whatever you set your mind to.” From this moment forward, I completely changed my outlook on this test and every obstacle that has been in my way ever since. Through keeping a well-balanced life and putting in the time and effort toward my goals, I know that I can achieve them all eventually, even if it takes a few tries.