Helping others through dentistry

For Michael Brooks, scholarships helped make it possible to get a job serving patients who have few resources and many needs

As Michael Brooks climbed into the dental chair to get ready for a check-up, he heard, “Don’t sit there.” His dentist, knowing the college sopho­more was an excellent student who was considering various careers, had cleared his schedule to talk about dentistry before beginning the appointment. “You have the pas­sion for it,” he told Brooks. “Don’t let mental obstacles weigh you down.”

It was the nudge Brooks needed, and three years later he was study­ing at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Soon he was nudging other young people toward dentistry, spending two Saturdays a month volunteering with the U’s Building Bridges to a Career in Dentistry Program.

Now practicing at Northpoint Health and Wellness Center, which serves a low-income population in Minneapolis, Brooks spends his time caring for patients, most of whom have few resources and many needs. He says the Holland/Jensen and Roland R. Jones schol­arships he received as a student made it possible for him to take a job that paid less than others because he had manageable debt when he graduated in 2013.

Brooks says his mission is simply to “help those who need the most help.” As he knows, a little help can have a big impact. “Without a couple of subtle reminders about pursuing your passion and the financial assis­tance, I probably wouldn’t be where I am.”