One thing Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC student ambassador Natalie Inoue emphasizes when she meets prospective students is that the opportunities inside and outside of the classroom are so enriching, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of them.

In her four years at Ostrow, Inoue has done just that — having helped organize health fairs, written a clinical manual for incoming students and worked on The Explorer, the student dental research journal. She also saw patients with the USC Mobile Clinic and at the USC John Wesley Community Health Institute on Skid Row and treated patients in Mexico, Fiji, Thailand and India.

All of these experiences have given her the necessary skills to work with children, patients with special needs and those with dental emergencies.


A change of course

After graduating from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and economics, Inoue enrolled at Ostrow, eyeing a career in pediatric dentistry.

This professional trajectory changed, though, during her second year in dental school when she became a teaching assistant, helping first-year students in a restorative dentistry course.

“I love being in the classroom and seeing people progress,” she said. “USC is known for graduating great clinicians and that is what I wanted to be, but now I also want to teach.”

Instead of settling into private practice after graduation, Inoue is headed to Harvard University for postgraduate work in prosthodontics and dental education. She believes prosthodontics will give her a depth of knowledge that will make her a valuable teacher down the road.

“I had so many great experiences at USC and I am glad I took advantage of all of them,” Inoue said. “I may not need them all in the future, but I got a wealth of knowledge and experience that will make me a better dentist and a better teacher in the years to come.”

— Hope Hamashige