Loving every minute

Photo of Jazz Smyl Joly skating .jpg
Jennifer Parraga, BA’93

Precision and teamwork are what bring Jazz Smyl Joly’s two worlds of figure skating and dentistry together.

“My whole life revolved around being part of a team that is focused on executing precise moves on the ice, and practising them over and over again to perfect my skills,” she said. “Maybe that’s why dentistry always appealed to me and was my end goal. I like the precision of it and that you are always striving to do better, to perfect your skills and you simply can’t do it alone you need a team to work with – and that’s just like skating.”

Smyl Joly describes herself as a typical small-town Canadian kid, with a love of skating and a rink in her backyard.

Home is St. Paul, Alberta. It’s a two-hour drive northeast of Edmonton, a route her family became all too familiar as Smyl Joly’s love of skating grew, so too did the lessons, access to coaches and opportunities. Soon the rink became her second home, as she travelled to Edmonton a few times a week for ice dance training.

With her mom by her side on the road and at the rink, and her dad keeping things running at the family business on the home front, Smyl Joly felt very loved and supported and she continued to excel.

The well-earned success led Smyl Joly to make a major life decision at age 16. She moved to Ottawa for a skating partner.

“It was tough to move away and make such a big change,” she said. “But it was really exciting, and a great experience. I grew as a person and it taught me a lot of life lessons that are still helping me today.”

Although her success on the ice continued, Smyl Joly began thinking about pursuing a career in dentistry, and started the Bachelor of Science program at Carleton University. It was a busy first year for the young competitor as she trained full time, maintained a full class load and represented Alberta at the Canadian National Skating Championships.

Despite a subsequent move to Texas to train, Smyl Joly continued her studies. Three years later she had completed her degree and moved back home to shadow some local dentists.

“I had always wanted to be a dentist,” she said. “But I wanted to really see if I would love it as much as I always imagined.”

Now in her third year, Smyl Joly couldn’t be happier.

The demands of the dentistry program can feel overwhelming at times, and that’s where Smyl Joly feels her past experiences as a national level athlete come into play.

“The workload is challenging and you are expected to juggle so many things at once, but I have learned how to balance everything and I still get to skate,” she added with a performance-ready smile.

For the past three years, Smyl Joly has competed with Western University’s varsity skating team. Wake up as the sun is rising, and you will be sure to see her heading to the rink three days a week for two-hour practices.

Photo of Smyl Joly skating at a competitionSmyl Joly says that skating balances out the intensity of the dentistry curriculum and puts her teamwork muscles to work so she can use them in the clinic.

It’s not surprising that for this future dentist, being in the clinic is the most satisfying aspect of the dentistry program. Smyl Joly admits to initially feeling nervous about working with patients, but now she loves every minute of it.

“The clinic is my happy place and I love working with patients,” she said. “You see them come in and some are in pain, and some are anxious, and then after the treatments, you see them walk out with a smile on their face. It’s really the highlight of my day.”

Part of her joy in the clinic stems from her close-knit class and the team feeling that has developed with her peers during the past three years.

“I have made friends for life,” she said.

Outside the clinic, Smyl Joly has also gained patient care experience internationally when she travelled to Guatemala as part of an outreach mission. There she spent eight days working in a makeshift clinic, providing dental care to people alongside a team of local and Canadian dentists. The amazing experience reaffirmed her commitment to dentistry and to providing care where it is needed most.

Looking ahead, Smyl Joly sees herself going back to where it all started and practising in a rural community.

“Small communities in Canada still don’t have the same access to care, as urban centres, and if I can play a small role in providing care to more people and know that I’m making a difference, I will be happy.”