From USC Dental Student to Faculty Member
Assistant professor of clinical dentistry Jenny Jin Son DDS ’10, PROS ’14 has found her dream job of educating future dental professionals at Ostrow.
BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14
It was as a doctor of dental surgery student in Ostrow’s human clinical dentistry course that Jenny Jin Son DDS ’10, PROS ’14 first heard the calling to become a dental educator.
“I was really awed by all the professors here,” said Son, an assistant professor of clinical dentistry at Ostrow. “USC produces a lot of great dentists, so to be part of that seemed really meaningful to me.”
The Korean native, who moved to Southern California at age 9, hadn’t considered a career in dentistry at first.
As an undergraduate at the University of California-Los Angeles, Son studied chemical engineering with a biomedical option because of her interest in medicine.
“I knew I wanted to be in the field of medicine, but I didn’t really want the hospital setting,” she said. “I liked the idea of helping people in a non-life threatening sort of way, so that’s what really attracted me to dentistry.”
After finishing her master’s degree at UCLA, Son headed across town to attend the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.
“I really needed a change of scenery,” Son said of not attending the UCLA School of Dentistry. “I was also more attracted to USC for its alumni network and support.”
As a doctor of dental surgery student, Son excelled.
“Jenny was a disciplined and focused student, and took her education and the profession seriously,” said Loris Abedi DDS ’92, PROS ’95, associate professor of clinical dentistry, who was one of Son’s instructors during her DDS program. “The combination of her values, work ethic, skills and knowledge made her one of our strongest students who stood out among many.”
After finishing her DDS, Son began a certificate program in prosthodontics to become an “expert in everything” so she could teach.
It wasn’t only her focus and strong work ethic that made Son stand out.
As a resident, Son was pregnant with her first son, Jayden, who is now 3 years old. “At the time, people would joke with me because I was always like, ‘I have to deliver this restoration! I have to deliver this restoration!’ and they would say, ‘You’ve got to deliver your baby first,’” Son says, with a laugh.
Son and husband Richard Lin, assistant professor of clinical dentistry, also have a one and a half year old daughter named Jaymie.
In 2014, Son became a part-time faculty member, with her days spent teaching advanced operative, advanced prosthodontics, CAD/CAM and dental implants. Recently, she was promoted to a full-time faculty position.
“She is a solid addition to the division of restorative sciences and will help the division maintain high standards at all levels,” said Abedi, now Son’s colleague. “She brings a unique combination of talent and qualifications, and she is well aware of her responsibilities in educating our students and preparing them to be the future dental professionals.”
It was a moment come full circle when Son instructed the human clinical dentistry course — the course that inspired her to teach in the first place — while its professor was on maternity leave, giving her a chance to reflect on her career journey at Ostrow.
“As a faculty member, every procedure and interaction is a chance to make a difference and to help build a foundation for the future,” Son says. “This is what was bestowed on me as a student, and I’m really happy to return the favor.”