Advice from the top student in dentistry

With the class of 2020 having convocated in June, the School of Dentistry is proud to celebrate its top students.

Jessalyn King - 12 June 2020

From the Doctor of Dental Surgery class, Cathy Kucey won the top honour, the Alberta Dental Association & College's Gold Medal, awarded to the top convocating student in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, based on academic standing.

So what does it take to be the top student in dentistry? Kucey has a few pieces of advice for upcoming students:

  1. My motivation has always been to be the best clinician for my patients, to take care of them the best I can. The better the student I can be, the better their experience.
  2. I also take pride in my work. If I do something, I'm going to do it the best that I can, better than I did the time before.
  3. Being involved at the U of A and volunteering for organizations and events is important; it gives you the stamina to get you through the marathon of a program.
  4. It's easy to get burned out, so making sure you have downtime, is just as important as putting in the work.

"On top of that,” she continues, “We have these amazing instructors, all leaders in their areas, which can only reflect onto us students. The faculty at the program build us up the whole way through, encouraging us to ask questions, try harder, be better. From day one, they were always there for us. We all appreciated their open-door policies."

She says you don’t get through a program such as this without support. "For all of us to get to where we are, we've already gone through years of schooling and the competitive application process. We need the social and emotional support of classmates and friends."

"I was also lucky to have family support," she says. Kucey hails from a family of dentists. Having won a few awards earlier, Kucey called her grandmother about them. Proud, her grandmother told the whole family that Cathy had won the gold medal. "Everyone texted congratulations on the gold medal! So I had to tell everyone, ‘thank you, but I just received a different award.’ So when I heard about actually winning the gold medal? I told everyone, 'Just kidding, Grandma's a psychic!' It was exciting for all of us!"

"Honestly, I was surprised to win this!" Kucey says. "Our class has a lot of driven, amazing, intelligent people and I saw them all working so hard and excelling, so I didn't think it would be me. I was over the moon when I heard! It's a big honour to receive the gold medal. I feel the weight of this big achievement. But I can't wait to see the medal in person in the fall!"

The complete listing of awards this year can be found on our website.