The Hinman Dental Society awarded nearly $450,000 in scholarships and gifts to dental education schools and programs this year. Included in these gifts are 89 scholarships, dispersed to students at 39 different dental programs throughout the Southeast. The students selected for scholarships are named “Hinman Scholars” and are recognized during a luncheon at the Hinman Dental Meeting each year.
We caught up with Blake Tollison, Hinman Scholar from MUSC, to hear more about his experience at Hinman this year and his plans for the future.
Blake Tollison pictured with Dr. Eddie Pafford, Hinman Trustee, and Melinda Lee, MUSC Hinman Scholar
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself & your decision to go into dentistry.
I grew up in Greer, South Carolina (a suburb of Greenville). I met my lovely wife, Megan, in high school and we both attended Clemson University. I was first intrigued by the dental profession when I thoroughly enjoyed my visits to the orthodontist. Dr. Summers was always very energetic and I appreciated our conversations. My father was an orthopedic surgeon, so I grew up interested in the medical field, but once I shadowed over a dozen dentists during college, the decision was easy. In November of my 3rd year at MUSC, my wife and I were blessed with a son. He was born only a couple weeks after finding out that I was nominated for the Hinman Scholarship. Going to Atlanta for the Hinman meeting was actually our first real road trip as a family! God has blessed me in so many ways and this timely scholarship was a true gift.
2. When will you graduate from MUSC and do you have any plans for where you want to practice?
I will graduate from MUSC on May 19, 2017. As of right now, my plan is to attend an Air Force AEGD-1 residency. I have changed my mind multiple times about specializing, but now that I have been in the clinic for over a year, I realize that I truly enjoy the wide spectrum of experiences and techniques that clinical dentistry has to offer. Although I have decided to go forward with the 1 year AEGD, I am not completely ruling out specializing in the future. After the Air Force, I am considering furthering my career in academia or private practice in the Southeast.
3. How did you learn that you were going to be awarded a Hinman scholarship?
Dr. Javed, MUSC’s Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, called me in the Fall of 2015 and left a voicemail asking me to call him back. After being nervous for a couple seconds, I realized that he wouldn’t be calling me with anything other than good news. After calling him back, I was obviously shocked, excited, and very grateful. Being a dental student has enough stressors in itself. I also had a pregnant wife who worked 12 hour shifts as a nurse. When my wife and I were finalizing financial plans for her maternity leave and having a newborn, we knew that there was a very small margin we had to make it work. Getting the call from Dr. Javed was literally an answered prayer that had us jumping for joy!
4. How has the scholarship impacted you?
The honor of being recognized by such an important and exceptional dental society is a remarkable feeling. When they add to that a free trip to the Hinman Dental Meeting and $4,000, it is very overwhelming. The scholarship could not have been more joyfully received as I looked upon my hard-working wife and new four-month-old son.
5. What was your favorite part about coming to the Hinman Dental Meeting to accept your scholarship?
The fact that it was the first trip we had taken as a family was reason enough to love it, but everyone I interacted with at the Hinman meeting went above and beyond what was expected. My favorite lecture was by Dr. Lee Ann Brady called “Today’s Top Clinical Tips”. Dr. Brady did a great job going through multiple areas of general dentistry and giving her best tips on how to be more efficient, what product she uses, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that she didn’t just tell us what to use or do, she backed it up with research or mechanism of action explaining why it was her favorite technique or trick. I absolutely plan on attending every year that I am able for the great CE, as well as the Hinman experience.
View the Hinman “Giving Video” to hear more Hinman Scholar stories.