Meet the Graduates:
Natalie Black DH ’19, DDS ’23
08 May 23
Natalie Black DH ’19, DDS ’23 follows in her grandfather’s footsteps, graduating from USC and becoming a Trojan dentist.
FOR NATALIE BLACK, DENTISTRY IS A FAMILY AFFAIR. More than 60 years after her grandfather John Wallace Black ’58 DDS ’62 completed his studies at USC, the Class of 2023 graduate is following in his footsteps.
It was that same Trojan grandfather that first ignited Black’s passion for dentistry.
“He taught me that dentistry is the perfect blend of science and artistic skill,” she says. “I love that dentistry allows you to use artistic abilities to make a significant difference in people’s lives.”
Black began her studies at Ostrow in 2017, first pursuing a dental hygiene degree, which she says gave her a huge leg up once she began her doctor of dental surgery studies.
“I can attribute a significant portion of my success in dental school to my background in dental hygiene,” Black says. “I’ve also been fortunate to be able to work as a dental hygienist throughout dental school, which has taught me so much about life in private practice.”
Throughout her studies, Black has held a number of leadership positions, serving as a student delegate and national representative for the American Dental Education Association beginning in September 2019 and as the president of Ostrow’s Associated Student Body from January 2022 to 2023. She also helped start and lead the Ostrow Sustainability Group, focused on reducing dental education’s carbon footprint.
She has also been recognized with the Order of Crete USC Student Recognition Award, the highest honor accorded to graduate students.
A Clinician with Humility
But it was her time with the USC Mobile Dental Clinic that had the greatest impact on her education.
“I was drawn to Mobile Clinic because the program allows us to make an enormous impact on people’s lives while working alongside some of the most passionate and inspiring individuals at Ostrow,” she says. “I have grown so much as a professional through my involvement with Mobile Clinic. Aside from hand skills, I’ve learned what it means to be a clinician with the utmost humility.”
Next up for Black is a postgraduate residency in endodontics at the University of California-San Francisco.
“The ability to alleviate patients from pain and improve their overall quality of life through endodontic treatment is what initially drew me to the specialty,” Black says. “It’s a great field with lots of exciting new research and technology.”
A Heart of Gratitude
While life may momentarily take her to the City by the Bay, Black plans to land back in Southern California after completing her two-year endodontics residency.
She says she hopes to give back to Ostrow one day, perhaps as a faculty member.
“Education is always something that I’ve been passionate about, and I would love to volunteer as a faculty member in the future,” she says. “I would also love to continue my involvement with Mobile Clinic or the Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program.”
For now, though, as Black begins to turn the page on one chapter and begin another, she reflects back on her time in dental school with gratitude.
“Looking back on these past four years, I’ve cultivated such incredible relationships with faculty and peers,” she says. “I feel so connected as well as supported and inspired. I’ve also learned so much more about different topics within dentistry that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”
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