Mark Fakory (DEN ’20)
Mark Fakory (DEN ’20) knows the value of giving back. As a student at NYU College of Dentistry, he honed his skills by providing dental care to underserved populations in New York City as well as Clinton County, New York. Even more notably, Mark worked with the college’s Global Outreach Team to provide dental care in Pokhara, Nepal. Providing pro bono dental care was one of the most rewarding extracurricular experiences for Mark. As he puts it, “giving back to the community has the added benefit of helping me understand new viewpoints and experiences of a diverse group of people.” Read about his journey in dental school at NYU and his plans for the future.
Why did you choose to enroll in NYU’s School of Dentistry?
I knew I wanted to study dentistry in New York City because it’s known to be a cultural melting pot. I did my undergrad at Rutgers University so I know the benefits that come from being part of a large and diverse class. Because of NYC’s diverse population, I knew the clinical exposure would be unique from most other schools. Another factor that led me to NYU was the unmatched clinical and educational opportunities. Many of my mentors, including my own dentist, chose to attend NYU College of Dentistry. The faculty and directors are giants in the field of dentistry, so I knew that I would be receiving a great education that would prepare me for the clinic and the workforce.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your final year at NYU? What did you learn from this experience?
We left our clinic sometime in March and took courses on Zoom for the rest of the semester. Even though my classmates and I are all distancing ourselves, we have continued to keep in touch, and plan for a reunion once the pandemic has passed.
I’ve learned a great deal from this experience. I learned to be more selfless, as it has been the younger generation’s responsibility to protect the older members of our community during this time. I also realized how much I had taken for granted before, such as being able to spend quality time with my family.
What kinds of activities did you participate in as a student?
I am a very experience-oriented learner, so any free time I had was spent looking for supplemental learning opportunities, especially ones that could benefit the community. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Global Outreach team both in Clinton County, NY and Pokhara, Nepal, where I got the chance to provide dental care to people who otherwise would not receive it. I also attended several local outreach events in New York City, providing oral screenings and exams to people of various backgrounds and ages.
In the summer of my third year in dental school, I was part of the Brooklyn Pilot Program, a ground-breaking program made to enhance the current state of dental education at NYU College of Dentistry. Due to the demand on the traditional clinic floors, our learning opportunities are sometimes limited when faculty members check our work. I also took part in Citizen Schools Club, where I was part of a group assigned to a middle school in New York. Each month we would give the students dentistry lessons. At the end of the year, the students presented the things they learned to their parents at a poster convention.
NYU is sometimes described as a school that’s “in and of the city” how has that been true for you?
If New York City is about one thing it’s about people. Residents in New York come from all different walks of life, and you can learn a lot from being in close proximity to such a wide variety of people. NYU cultivates this experience by offering ample opportunity for its students, from all different programs of study, to mingle and learn from each other, as well as from the larger community.
What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?
I am currently in a general practice residency at the Veterans Affairs hospital in New Jersey. In my future, I have hopes to dedicate time out of my practice to participate in outreach programs and service trips that provide dental care and education to both local and international populations, as this was key to my own dental education. I also have a desire to return to academia and share my passion for dentistry with future dentists.
What advice would you give an incoming student to maximize their time at NYU?
The best advice I could give an incoming student is to get involved as much possible, without compromising other facets of your education. Keep a steady pace and stay determined no matter what failures or obstacles occur. In times of self-doubt, try and remember the fact that you’ve made it this far is a testimony to your abilities. Lastly, be a trailblazer. You can easily follow the same path everyone else has taken, but the things you learn along the narrower or untrodden paths are much more rewarding.