Two Montana Tech biology seniors are headed to highly competitive dentistry programs after graduation. They say the one-on-one opportunities offered at Montana Tech helped them stand out in the admissions process.
Madelynn Worley, of Butte, will attend the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. Kaylee Appley, of Shelby, will enroll at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Both dentistry programs enrolled less than 5% of applicants in the 2022 entering class.
Appley is confident that Montana Tech has prepared her for her dentistry journey.
“I think I have a huge leg up going to dental school,” Appley said. “When your classes are small, like at Montana Tech, you don’t get lost in the crowd."
Appley arrived at Montana Tech unsure of which profession she wanted to pursue. She knew healthcare was in her future, but there are a lot of paths one can take within that field.
“I was originally looking at the nursing program and I hadn’t heard anything about the biology program,” Appley said. “One of the lesser known facts about Tech is that the pre-professional health programs in biology and chemistry are really great.”
The faculty at Montana Tech helped Appley complete job shadows to narrow down her interests.
“Nursing was something that I thought I liked, so I shadowed doctors and nurses, and found out that was not for me,” Appley said. “I shadowed a dentist in the Butte area and it felt right.”
Worley also said small class sizes, job shadowing, and working as an orthodontic assistant in Butte helped her succeed in the dental school application process.
“I chose Biology because I liked the faculty,” Worley said. “I knew I wanted to do something medical, but I didn’t know what exactly. There’s an open-door policy in the department, so you feel comfortable going in and chatting with your professors. It is a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. It’s like everybody is on your side. They want you to succeed.”
“I love working at Montana Tech because we get to know our students well,” Biology Department Head Dr. Amy Kuenzi said. “It’s really rewarding to help them during their undergraduate education and prepare them for future success. All the faculty in biology and chemistry take pride in our students and their accomplishments.”
Former alumni helped both Worley and Appley study for the Dental Admissions Test, which is required for admission. Both students performed undergraduate research in multiple settings.
“You can get started on research in your freshmen year,” Appley noted. “It definitely makes your resume stand out. It makes a huge difference to have that on your resume.”
Worley said the research element was an important piece of her application.
“The Dental Interview Committee loved the fact that I was involved in research,” Worley said. “It shows a solid work ethic and that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty.”
Appley also had teaching assistant and tutoring experience on her resume. Working with many Orediggers, some of whom had significant challenges to study, also helped prepare Appley for working with the public.
“It has helped me empathize more, which I think will also help me in the dental field,” Appley said.
Appley said she’s also graduating without debt. She received a Marcus Daily Gold Scholarship and other local scholarships, that helped her pay for her undergraduate education. In contrast, she applied to one of the state’s other flagship universities, and was offered only a $1,000 scholarship.
“It’s so much more affordable at Montana Tech than other schools,” Appley said. “I would probably be $100,000 in debt by now.”
Appley wants to return to Montana and work in a rural community, where she saw a dire need for healthcare professionals during her undergraduate shadowing and community service experiences.
Worley is looking forward to coming back to Butte, where she hopes to serve her hometown. She’s unsure but might want to specialize in orthodontics or pediatric dentistry.
“I’ll get hands-on experiences for everything in my dental program,” Worley said. “I am excited to see if I am drawn to a specialty.”