Final Impressions: Creating a Lasting Impact Through Dentistry and Medicine

May 5, 2022
Headshot of Jack Harris

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Jack Harris, DMD22, never thought he would be attending one of the top dental schools – Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). “HSDM is the most prestigious dental school not only in the U.S., but the world. Me, just a kid from Missouri, would never have imagined that I would be representing the HSDM graduating class of 2022,” said Harris.


Harris was extremely active in sports and academics from a young age, and could often be found bouncing from soccer to tennis to baseball all in the same week. As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame majoring in science-business and Spanish, he remained active, joining the Division 1 collegiate cheerleading team, traveling across the country for various sporting events.


One person holding other person above their head, cheerleading“I actually met my wife at cheerleading tryouts,” said Harris. “Cheerleading was an extremely formative experience that has taught me many lessons and skills that translate to being a successful clinician both at dental school and for my future career.”


When deciding on a dental school, HSDM was his top choice due to the opportunity to become involved in clinical research. The school, nestled between some of the best hospitals in the country, gives students access to top research mentors in their field of interest. Harris was also drawn to the blended academic curriculum of medicine and dentistry that HSDM offers.


“I was pretty set on applying to an oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) residency when I was choosing dental schools. Because OMFS is a hybrid between medicine and dentistry, I thought that there was no better place to attend dental school than HSDM where the integration of medicine and dentistry is at the forefront of their mission.”


With an abundance of energy and a drive to learn, Harris jumped into the many organizations and experiences the School has to offer. He served as Class Treasurer for the Class of 2022, collaborated as dental lead for the Global Surgery Student Alliance, worked as the chief technology officer for the HSDM Oral Surgery Journal Club, and participated as an integrated dental clinician for the Crimson Care Collaborative at the Nashua Street Jail. He also has over 25 peer-reviewed publications in various academic journals, and recently earned first place in the 2022 Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research Application.


“What makes HSDM so special is the people. I have met so many great individuals who have taught me so much, not just about dentistry, but life in general.”


Harris knew in high school that he wanted to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon through his mentor Dr. Robert Stanton. Stanton taught him the importance of creating a welcoming and stress-free atmosphere for patients.


“On my first day of dental shadowing, I was thrilled to experience the real-world application of the profession that has captivated my intellectual pursuit for years, but I also shared in the young patient’s unease,” said Harris. “I marveled at Dr. Stanton’s ability to divert the patient’s anxiety. My tense feelings were replaced with admiration. In that moment, I knew I had found my calling, and I became even more eager to learn all I could about the world of dentistry.”


Student standing next to digital screeningHarris will continue his education after graduation by pursuing a residency in OMFS at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital.


“I hope to further develop my patient-management skills and learn how to surgically treat many of the vulnerable populations that I have identified through my research efforts.”


With this chapter soon closing, Harris will make one more lasting impression as a student at HSDM – representing the Class of 2022 as co-moderator for the upcoming Class Day in May.


“HSDM is truly a unique institution that produces many of the future leaders in oral healthcare who understand the importance of using their profession to make the world a healthier and better place. To be able to express my appreciation and gratitude for the institution that has changed me in so many ways for the better is such an honor.”