DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, Students

Determination and support bring student within grasp of DDS goal

Left to right: Jasmine Nevil, Sarah Dobson, Christina Williams, Noél McIntosh, Candice Hodge, Briawna Dildy and Caylen Bost at their White Coat Ceremony in 2022.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” For Briawna Dildy, DDS ‘24, the answer has been the same since she was five years old — a dentist. Dildy, now 30, has been pursuing her DDS and will graduate in May. She credits her pediatric dentist, mentor and Adams School of Dentistry alumna Roslyn Crisp, DDS, with helping her achieve this goal.

Left to right: Jennifer Durham Crisp, DDS, Noél McIntosh, Sarah Dobson, Roslyn M. Crisp, DDS, Briawna Dildy, Jasmine Nevil and Pierre Querette at the DFNC Scholarship Dinner in February 2023.

“I knew I wanted to be a dentist since I was five,” Dildy said. “I wanted to go to the dentist even when I didn’t need to go. My mother purchased a Play-Doh Drill ‘n Fill play set for me, and I said ‘I can do this. This is what I want to do.’”

Dildy was even fascinated by her grandparents’ dentures, telling them “I’m going to get your teeth back.” And while the dream began at a young age, Dildy was mature enough to do everything she could to pursue her goal — working hard at school to prepare herself for a dental career and staying dedicated to her chosen career. She also had her sights set on Adams School of Dentistry.

“I homed in on UNC because of the dental school and to get me to the next level,” she said. “I did everything I could to make myself qualify for UNC, including summer programs and staying immersed with UNC. The applications were tough, and it was the only school on my radar. Acceptance wasn’t in the cards, so I had to go back to the drawing board.”

Determined to succeed

Briawna Dildy, DDS ’24.

Dildy didn’t let this setback derail her plans, though. East Carolina University’s dental school and mission also appealed to her, so she enrolled as a biology major before changing her major to exercise physiology, a better fit for her as a learner.

Dildy continued to prepare for her career as a dentist, enrolling in a summer immersion program at UNC – the Medical Education Development (MED) Program, a program that offers an intensive educational experience and opportunity to gain insight into the realities of attending medical or dental school. On the advice of a mentor, Jennifer Crisp, DDS, she earned a master’s degree in biology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University through a program for pre-professional students. When it was time to apply for dental school, Dildy thought she might pursue her DDS at ECU but applied to ASOD, as well.

She got the good news in 2019, when she was accepted to ASOD and enrolled in the fall of 2020. She has found a family of people at ASOD, strengthening connections she made during her undergrad years with the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and forging new bonds with members of her DDS class.

Dildy has held leadership positions within ASOD’s SNDA, and their chapter is consistently ranked as the top chapter of the year.

“My experience with SNDA goes beyond dental school,” she said. “As an undergrad, I was not confident and assured in my abilities to get into dental school, and I looked at other options to build up and strengthen my application. They made sure we achieved our goals.”

Support at every level

Dildy attended the 2022 LAUNCH: Leadership Summit in Chicago in 2022.

Now Dildy is helping other students just like her as part of the SNDA, offering others the same types of opportunities and guidance she received. She is also taking time to celebrate the organization’s events for Black History Month, including cultural food days, poetry events and a gala, something she said wouldn’t be possible without ASOD support.

“The success of the SNDA depends on students and alums and support from the school,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the school’s support of SNDA and our mission to be innovative and connect pre-dental students and others to what we do.”

Their work is especially important during February, as we celebrate Black History Month and the contributions of Black oral health care providers and other Black pioneers, as well.

“Black History Month is a symbolic celebration/representation of everything my people have done and how far and so much we have endured,” she said. “I want us to remember all the sacrifices that have been made and all the work still to come; knowing that every day should be met with gratitude and appreciation. Black History Month is a celebration of life, triumph, and resilience and the continued journey for excellence and perseverance.”

Two women holding signs.

Dildy, right, recently matched at Ohio State University, where she will complete her residency in pediatric dentistry. With Dildy is Sarah Dobson, who matched at Indiana University.

Focusing on pediatric dentistry

Dildy comes from a small community in North Carolina, and she said she always wanted to give back in some way to those in Caswell County, and that passion helped her settle on pediatric dentistry as a specialty.

“I’ve never turned away from them; it was looking at what I could do and how I could benefit my community,” she said.

Dildy recently matched at Ohio State University, where she will spend the next two years in

Dildy and boyfriend Lloyd Hunt enjoy hiking at Hanging Rock.

the school’s Nationwide Children’s hospital-based Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program. She shared the good news with Roslyn Crisp, who was fundamental in helping Dildy learn more about pediatric dentistry.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for me,” Dildy said. “I wanted to specialize, and [Crisp] allowed me to work with her for years, getting that clinical experience and offering guidance.”

A black and white dog in a lumberjack costume.

Dildy has a fur child, Orie, a Shih-tzu.

Fun, family and a fur child

While Dildy will pursue her own career in pediatrics, she still hasn’t lost sight of herself and still makes time to spend with her family. When she’s not in clinic, you can find her hiking with her Shih-tzu, Orie, enjoying the outdoors or tending to a blueberry bush she planted in her garden.

“You can leave the country, but the country doesn’t leave you,” she laughed.