Andy Le stands in front of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine sign

How a Master of Science in Management benefitted this dental student

Andy Le is a graduate of the Master of Science in Management (MSM) from 2020. He is going on to the Doctor of Dental Surgery Program at University of Buffalo after completing his MSM. Andy came to the MSM program with an undergraduate degree in microbiology and cell science.

Andy shares about his experiences in life and at Hough, how an MSM benefitted him as a dental student and more.

Andy Le stands in a busy city Q: Tell us about yourself and how you came to the MSM program.

Le: “I have lived in Gainesville my whole life. I grew up working in my parent’s restaurant, Chopstix Café. I was fortunate enough to be raised by a family of entrepreneurs. They truly inspired me to seek my own success through hard work and education. At the age of 12, I found my passion for Vietnam. It was at my aunt’s emergency dental clinic where I had the chance to get hands-on with dentistry. There were a gratifying feeling and privilege of being able to improve someone’s health almost instantly. At that moment I knew I wanted to become a dentist with a goal to one day have my own practice. After arriving back in the States, I had the opportunity to live and shadow my uncle, Dr. Thomas Doan. He taught me the importance of seeking challenges by doing things that are out of your comfort zone. From then, I graduated a year early with a degree in microbiology and did office management work at my uncle’s dental practice. I felt that the next step to building my success was through seeking a new field of challenge. A challenge that I had never done before, which was pursuing a degree in business management. What I hoped to get out of this program was the education that would help me manage my own private practice in the near future.”

Q: Tell us about your experience at the Hough Graduate School as a master’s student. How was it different from undergrad?

Le: “The biggest difference between being a master’s student versus an undergrad was the learning style. In a master’s program, there are no set outlines on things to do, which mimics what the real world is like. In the real world, there are no outlines on projects. My experience as a master’s student was that the MSM program allowed me to express my creative side, by allowing me to pursue my own projects with the support and help of a professor.”

Q: What are the on-campus activities you took part in as an undergraduate student?

Le: “During undergrad, I volunteered at Acorn Dental Clinic and as a research assistant to Dr. Wright at the UF Food Lab. Acorn is a non-profit organization that provides affordable care in rural areas, especially for low-income patients. Many of the patients out in the rural area have no source of transportation, so having a clinic right next to their house was convenient for them. What I loved about this organization is that they’re willing to establish a clinic in an area where there are no dentists or medical doctors.

As a research assistant, I worked with chitosan, which is a compound found in shellfish that is a non-toxic biodegradable treatment to Salmonella. What’s interesting about this is that there’s a large abundance of shellfish waste such as shrimp peels that could be used in irrigation waterways at large food producers. The implementation of this could eradicate pathogenic diseases that are spreading through irrigation water in food plants that could lead to the prevention of something like the E. coli outbreak in bean sprouts.”

Andy Le with a group of dental professionals Q: What is your advice to current undergraduate students about doing the MSM program, and especially those preparing for dental school?

Le: “The first piece of advice is that failure is the key to success and the second piece of advice is to constantly seek challenges that require you to get out of your comfort zone because it is the path to self-improvement. My road to pursuing dentistry has been bumpy. There are days where I felt hopeless after getting my first rejection of dental school because I gave 110% of myself, from having thousands of hours volunteering, conducting scientific researching, to having stellar grades, and to working full-time in a management role. The MSM program has challenged me to think outside of the box through innovation, and I have felt leaps of self-improvement after graduating today.”

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from today?

Le: “Five years from today, I would have officially been honored with the title of Dr. Andy Le. I would be in my first year of residency at an emergency dental clinic.”

Q: Tell us three fun facts about you.

Le: “1. When I travel, I like to immerse myself into the culture by eating and living like the locals. 2. I was the firstborn Vietnamese American in my family. 3. I am a huge animal lover. When I go to animal shelters, I want to adopt every dog and cat.”