Dr. Beth Towne lives out her "happily ever after" each day at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (SDM). Instead of using her degree in biology from Notre Dame to spend day after day counting dead fish in what she imagines would have been a mundane existence, Towne found dentistry; she found her husband; she found her calling. She received her DDS from Northwestern Dental School in 1984 and a career in dentistry has proven to be perfect for Towne. "Dentistry is a great blend of art and science. I like working with people enormously, so it’s really a good fit for me."
Towne wasn’t the first in her family to accept a faculty position with SDM. When she and her husband moved out to Denver from Chicago with their two children in 2001, it was her husband, Dr. Daniel E. Wilson, who began work with the University of Colorado SDM. Towne took that first year to help her children transition to their new schools and to figure out how she would continue to challenge herself and her own growth.
Enter Howard Dental Center, a nonprofit organization that provides a full range of dental healthcare for adults and youth who live with HIV/AIDS. Towne recalls, "Everyday felt like you were doing really important work for people who really needed it. My experience there was academically stimulating, socially stimulating and made me a very medically savvy dentist." One of her roles during the 2 ½ years she worked at the Howard Dental Center was to be a preceptor for SDM fourth year students who had chosen that as one of their ACTS rotation sites, where they acquired significant clinical experience.
It was then that she heard about the opportunity to work with the International Student Program (ISP) at SDM. As an individual who is open to unique opportunities, Towne remembers thinking, "Work with international students? Now that sounds fun. Joining the University to do work like that sounds really interesting." She began as a half-time faculty member and becomes nostalgic when she sighs, "I had a perfectly balanced life."
Five years have passed and Towne is now the full-time Director of ISP; she’s busier than ever. "I really love what I do. It’s stressful and a lot of work, but it is so fun. It’s amazing to be involved in the professional growth of all these internationally trained dentists. It’s very socially stimulating and academically stimulating," comments Towne. It’s obvious that she cares about her students; she excitedly rattles off what many graduates from the ISP are doing these days as she refers to class pictures that hang on the walls of her office.
Towne admits, "I’m most proud that this feels like a community and a family; there is a connectedness here that is unique and draws people. Students choose this program because they are drawn to that sense of community and know they will have great faculty interactions during their time in the ISP." Dr. Beth Towne makes a difference everyday by helping to educate the next generation of dentists so they have a great foundation to give back to their communities and be inspired to find their very own happily ever afters.