By Cindy Abole
In a few weeks, dental
medicine graduate Jennifer Forsythe, DMD, will trade in the familiar
Lowcountry landscape for New York City's skyline as she continues her
training in a one-year general dental practice residency at Harlem
Hospital. The move is a far cry from her humble beginnings in the small
community of Snowden.
Forsythe, DMD, graduated
from MUSC's College of Dental Medicine on May 20 with a doctorate in
dental medicine. A day earlier, she was honored by dental faculty as
the 2011 recipient of the Harold Z. Hirsch Scholarship for the
Achievement and Advancement in Dentistry. Each year, the dental faculty
presents this award to a graduating dental student for his or her
dedication, persistence and hard work embodying the spirit of dentistry
excellence. The award, given by the Hirsch family in memory of the late
Harold Hirsch, DMD, a 1983 dental school alumnus, was established in
Dr. Jennifer Forsythe, left, with
dental assistant Celeste Moultrie.
"It's with great honor and
humility that I accept the Hirsch Award from the college and the Hirsch
family," said Forsythe, a Mount Pleasant native. "It has been a long,
arduous journey. Without the support of family, friends, dental faculty
and fellow students, this day would not have been possible. I am a
living testament to the power of prayer, hard work, persistence and
Forsythe is a descendent
of West Indian immigrants, American slaves and Native Americans. She
will be the first person in her family to receive a professional
degree. She pays homage to her ancestors by striving to achieve goals
that they never had the opportunity to pursue. The youngest of five
children, Forsythe, 27, attended Academic Magnet High School. She was a
pre-med student at Howard University and earned a bachelor's of science
degree in biology and a minor in chemistry in 2005.
It was at Howard's School
of Dentistry's dental clinic while being fitted for braces that she
learned about dentistry as a career choice from the dental students and
residents. "The students talked to me about different aspects of
dentistry, showed me the latest technology and answered my questions."
She was quickly hooked.
Although she was accepted
to other dental schools, she chose to attend MUSC. She remembers
struggling along with others through her first semester with classes
such as gross anatomy. She quickly sought help from the dean's office,
dental faculty and Center for Academic Excellence and Writing Center.
One colleague who was
consistent with her support was staff dental assistant Celeste
Moultrie. Moultrie, who worked in the college's clinical restorative
clinic, always had a smile for Forsythe any time she would see her.
"You can do it—you'll get
it," said Moultrie, who shared her level of enthusiasm and motivation
with Forsythe and other students. Moultrie remembers seeing something
special in the easygoing and determined dental student. As the years
progressed, Moultrie saw her young friend blossom to become a
confident, committed individual. "Jennifer always worked hard in
achieving her goals. I'm very proud of her."
Tariq Javed, DMD,
associate dean for academic and student affairs, was a valued mentor
and faculty member who constantly encouraged her throughout her dental
"We're proud of Jennifer
and her accomplishments. She's worked especially hard through dental
school in becoming an excellent clinical dentist. Her dedication,
persistence and commitment have helped her achieve her dream. I wish
her all of the luck in her dentistry career," he said.
Forsythe credits her
parents, Alfreda and Burns, her siblings, late grandparents and other
relatives for their inspiration. She feels her success is a testament
to her family, faith in herself in reaching her goals, and faith in
Three things that
got Jennifer Forsythe through dental school
Playing video games