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Franz Wall (’16) Franz Wall (’16)

 

“Since I was 15 years old I knew I wanted to be a dentist,” says Franz Wall (’16). That dream is now one step closer to reality, as Mr. Wall has been admitted to the Navy Health Professional Scholarship Program — under which he will receive a full scholarship to dental school, plus a stipend, valued at upward of $600,000. In exchange for the benefits, he will be required to serve for three years as a Navy dentist in active duty. “After my service obligation I will be returning to Mariposa, California, to start my own private dental practice,” he says.

Knowing at such a young age that he wanted to be a dentist presented Mr. Wall with a dilemma when it was time to choose a college. Because the typical approach for pre-dental students is to earn a bachelor’s degree in medicine or science, a liberal arts degree “seemed obsolete and ineffective,” he admits. “I was aware of the impressive reasoning skills and deep faith that the students of Thomas Aquinas College possessed, but I had a hard time discerning how that would help me as a dentist.”

His opinion changed, however, when he sought the advice of admissions officials at some prestigious dental colleges. “They explained that they wanted to teach the medicine, and they would rather I had a broad base of knowledge before I specialized,” Mr. Wall recalls. “This information made TAC an easier choice.”

Upon graduating in 2016 he completed prerequisite classes for dental school at the University of California, Merced. He then took the Dental Admissions Test and scored in the 98th percentile, upon which he applied and was one of the first six students accepted to the University of Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry this year.

In addition to his studies, for the last year and a half Mr. Wall has been working both as a dental assistant and for Mariposa County’s Oral Health Program. “We have been working for the last year on educating the community on oral hygiene and connecting underprivileged community members to oral health care,” he writes.

Looking forward — and back — he is pleased with his unconventional choice of a college. “The four years I spent at TAC have been some of the best years of my life,” he says. “I was able to grow closer to God through the support of many strong Catholic men and women, with daily sacraments and wonderful priests for advice. I was able to grow personally through the many good conversations and interactions I had with the people I met. I was able to learn how to think critically, how to make sense of any argument, and how to explain complicated concepts to people clearly. As years pass since my graduation, I realize more and more the value of my education and cannot be thankful enough.”