Saginaw Valley State University student Brianna Kosecki's future is looking as bright as a freshly polished smile after being accepted into the nation's top dentistry school.
Kosecki, a pre-dental biology major and first-generation college student from Standish who will graduate in May 2019, received acceptance letters from three dental schools before choosing to study at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
“It felt really good, because that was my number one choice,” Kosecki said. “They have an interesting program for their fourth year where they send students out into actual clinics to work at, which is really unique.”
Part of what makes Kosecki's story so impressive is that U-M offered her a scholarship of $20,000 per year while she studies there, which will cover a significant portion of the yearly attendance costs that range between $40,000 and $49,000 per year, not including living expenses.
Such scholarships are rare, said Heidi Lang, SVSU's pre-health professions advisor, adding it is a testament to Kosecki's talent and work ethic.
“This is an incredibly rare opportunity reserved for the best and brightest across the nation,” Lang said.
Kosecki is a driven student who has served as an employee in the university's STEM Mobile Research Lab, as a Mission of Mercy volunteer with the Michigan Dental Association, and as the current president of SVSU's Health Professions Association, among other extracurricular activities.
Kosecki is also the first recipient of SVSU's Jessica Bentoski Pre-Dental scholarship, which paid for $1,000 worth of dental school applications and testing fees. Bentoski is an SVSU alumna who graduated with her D.D.S. from the U-M dental school and now has a pediatric dentistry practice in Saginaw Township; she established the scholarship in 2016.
SVSU offered much additional support, as well, and Kosecki credits the caring faculty and staff for much of her undergraduate success.
“Heidi Lang was super helpful,” Kosecki said. “I went in and talked to her, and she gave me tons of contacts for people who I could go in and shadow, information on courses to take and what was expected for how many shadowing hours are needed to be competitive.”
Kosecki said she was inspired to pursue dentistry by her mother's work in the field as a dental hygienist. Kosecki was able to shadow dental professionals while they worked, a requirement for dental school applications.
“I got a lot of mentorship,” Kosecki said. “People really love to help and give access to resources.”
As for advice to other students, Kosecki suggests they get involved with organizations like the Health Professionals Association, both for the networking opportunities and the ability to learn from others in their field.
“Start early, and definitely shadow and make sure it's something you enjoy," Kosecki said. "Find good opportunities, because there are so many around here.”
Even as an undergraduate, Kosecki already finds her involvement in dentistry to be a worthwhile experience.
“Even just going in and volunteering ... just being able to help set up clinics and do that kind of work is really fulfilling,” Kosecki said.