Amar Kuruganti: Building School Community Through Leadership

Monday, May 12, 2014

For Amar Kuruganti, Dentistry Class of 2014 and University of Western Ontario Dental Student Society (UWODSS) President, the strong relationships he has formed with his family, friends and community have been the driving force behind his choice to pursue a career in dentistry.

With a number of family members in medicine, he has always been interested in the interactions between health care providers and patients and has a strong passion for working with people.

Despite realizing he wanted to work in health care from an early age, Kuruganti admits he was frightened by his first interaction with a dentist. "I saw my very first tooth extraction, complete with blood and weird noises, while shadowing with a dentist in grade eight and it scared me," he said.

Born in India, Kuruganti moved to Canada with his family at the age of six and grew up in Brockville, Ontario. He chose to study at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry because the School reflected a close-knit community feeling.

"The student experience was just as important as the professional training I'd receive when I made my decision," he said. "Schulich Dentistry seemed like a perfect fit."

He speaks highly of the student experience and personal relationships he has created at the School. The meaningful friendships with his professors and colleagues are easily his favourite memories and have reaffirmed his decision to pursue the dental profession.

In his role as UWODSS President, Kuruganti has been able to expand his social and professional network. He oversees student, faculty and clinic issues and also provides input and feedback for all of the School's social events.

The fourth year dental student's involvement with student council began with organizing social events, but he soon realized he wanted to take on a role where he could be more of a voice for students. He attributes his success as Council President to his ability to effectively communicate with others.

"I have my opinions and I'm almost never afraid to share them," he said. "I think all leaders need this certain degree of boldness to be effective."

Aside from his academic and council duties, Kuruganti still finds the time for the activities he enjoys most - reading, travelling, and sharing his magnetic personality with everyone he meets.

As a special surprise this month, he dropped off roses with personalized messages for dental clinic staff members and the women in his class on Valentine's Day. "Everyone deserves to start Valentine's Day with a smile," he explained.

In the future, Kuruganti sees himself practising dentistry in a rural community. Even after his work as a dentist becomes routine, Kuruganti knows the patients will continue to remain interesting and give him something to look forward to every day.

He enjoys the personal interactions he has with each of his current patients at the School's dental clinics. The sense of community encourages him to strive for excellence. "Relationships with my patients are so important to me. I don't want to just be treating their mouth. I want to know who they are."