Division I Athlete Balances Academics and Involvement

Zachary Bennett | Undergraduate | Biology (pre-dental)

School of Science biology alumnus, Zach Bennett recently began his career as a dental student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Bennett accredits much of his success to the rigor and responsibility of being an IUPUI School of Science student and Division I swimmer.

The balancing act

As an undergrad, a day in the life of Bennett began packing food, usually a lot of it, for the next day. Then there was swim practice at dawn, a full day of classes, afternoon swim practice and an evening of studying.

Add on all of the organizations Bennett was involved with, including the Pre-Dental club, Biology Club, Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Peer-led Team Learning (a chemistry program he serves as a mentor for) and sometimes Bennett felt like there was not enough time in the day.

He doesn’t regret being heavily involved in academics and extracurriculars though, saying the habits he developed as an undergrad still serve him to this day.

“I love to be doing a million things at once and not finding a dull moment in the day,” says Bennett. “There are many times I put into practice the time management skills I learned through balancing athletics, academics and on-campus leadership positions, which I know sets me apart from others.”

Research

Through effective time management, Bennett completed more than 180 hours of community service and took part in paid research at the Oral Health Institute through a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Institute MURI internship while still in undergrad. Working with Richard Gregory, Ph.D., Bennett studied the effects of nicotine on oral health and co-authored published findings from these studies.

The research in Gregory’s lab helped Bennett gain a better idea of the different kinds work that go into improving oral health and helped him effectively prepare to enter a top-tier dental school.

“Working with Dr. Gregory opened my eyes to another side of dentistry that I never thought I would fit into and enjoy,” Bennett shared. “Research is a challenging, abstract, free-thinking experience that has helped me learn how to make sometimes difficult decisions.” 

Experience abroad

To better serve his future patients, Bennett earned a Spanish minor and took part in an undergraduate study abroad program in Spain. Studying abroad allowed Bennett to take classes for his minor, learn about a different culture and improve his Spanish speaking skills.  Bennett says studying abroad was a “pinnacle experience” of his undergrad career and he’s excited to use the skills he learned in Spain and in his Spanish minor to communicate with patients when he’s a dentist.