This year’s Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony marked not only the start of dental education for Parker White but also a new professional and personal beginning.
The Modesto, Calif., native was enjoying success in real estate investment until the historic housing crash of 2008 forced him to reassess his livelihood.
“For several years I bought residential real estate to either keep as a rental or sell to roll equity into another property,” he said. “This made financial sense until the real estate market took a dive during the recession.”
Luckily, the inspiration for his new professional journey was well within reach. White’s wife, Lindsey Robinson DDS ’90, is an Ostrow School alumna and a pediatric dentist as well as the current president of the California Dental Association. Several members of her family are also dental professionals, including her father, Richard Robinson DDS ’72.
“All along, I had been assisting in building my wife’s practice in pediatric dentistry and became well acquainted with the rigors and rewards of clinical dental practice,” White said. “It was a natural evolution to pursue the family business.
“(My family members) have taught me that dentistry is an excellent and very rewarding health care profession,” he continued. “There is a richness of benefits received in building relationships within the community and, at the most basic level, helping people maintain optimal oral health.”
White attended Sierra College and the University of Nevada, Reno, in order to complete his predental school coursework. The Ostrow School was a natural choice for dental school, and not just because of his wife’s connection.
White has also received the inside scoop on what being an Ostrow School student involves and tips for succeeding in dental school.
“Through my wife’s involvement with organized dentistry, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several recent Ostrow grads and current students,” he said. “I’ve gotten information on how the curriculum works within the small study groups and what goes on in the simulation lab.”
All the insider information hasn’t spared White from being nervous as he begins the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program — especially since he’s a nontraditional student. He hopes that he and the younger students will still have much to share with one another.
“I’m a little trepidatious about being over 40 and surrounded by students who are a generation removed from me. Young people today are incredibly smart and hardworking, which shows in the caliber of individuals entering dental school today,” he said. “At the same time, I look forward to getting to know the highly collaborative and tech savvy Gen Ys and sharing with them the wisdom I’ve accumulated through life experience.”
White has very clear goals for when he finishes dental school.
“My wife has a well-established pediatric dentistry practice in our community. With me as a general dentist, we could jointly offer dental care to the community across the age spectrum,” he said.
He is also committed to giving back, both to the profession and to the community.
“It is my intention to become active in organized dentistry and remain a member of the California Dental Association for the entire length of my career,” he said. “I feel it is my professional obligation to support the profession in this way and also give back to the community by providing pro bono dental care.”
White and the incoming DDS, Dental Hygiene and Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists classes took the first step on their professional journeys to becoming dental professionals at the 2013 White Coat Ceremony on Sept. 9 in Bovard Auditorium.