As professionals whose work is to “straighten” their patients’ lives, it only makes sense that orthodontists Dr. Trent Nestman and Dr. Albert Eng are in the classroom doing the same for tomorrow’s future leaders. Trent and Albert spent four years together in dental school, another two years together in orthodontic dentistry, and another three years together volunteering for Junior Achievement while they run their orthodontic practice, Brighton & Reunion Orthodontics.
It is not uncommon for students to walk into their classroom and wonder why their orthodontists are standing there in their classroom. “It seemed like a perfect opportunity to interact with teenagers on a different level than straightening their teeth,” says Albert. Trent recalls that they “had just opened a new business in the Commerce City area and thought it would be a good way to get involved with the community. It was a rewarding experience to teach the Junior Achievement curriculum to so many young students.
Growing up, neither of them envisioned a career in orthodontics, with Albert aspiring to be a pediatrician and Trent envisioning his love of sports and writing would translate to a career as a sports journalist. Trent’s favorite part of the JA curriculum is when “students discuss what they want to be when they grow up. It’s interesting to hear what some of their talents are, especially when those talents match up with their future career goals. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to their life goals. Education is important and will open doors of opportunity for them. Whatever career path they choose, I try to emphasize the importance of taking pride in their work and being as educated as possible in their chosen field.”
Albert concurs. “Find out who you are and what you like (self-knowledge!)”, he says while dropping a vocabulary word. “You need to know this in order to find a career that you will enjoy for the long haul.” As a student, Albert just wanted to get through his homework and take his tests and didn’t see how important and interesting school can be. As an adult, he now sees the value of knowledge and how much was at our fingertips being in school.
“When playing the game about working or staying in school, I’ve seen a few times when a student will suddenly grasp the concept of how education can provide a better opportunity in the workforce. It’s nice to see when they make the connection and that it’s not just a game but a scenario that they may see in real life later on.”
Trent believes that volunteering with Junior Achievement is not only fun, but also “helps to remember what it was like to be at the very beginning of our educational journey.” Albert enjoys the experience of “working with our future leaders. Although the students may not remember 100% of what we share, maybe not even 99%, but that 1% can make a difference in their life.”