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Dental Student Goes the Extra Miles

Written by Adam Zewe

Danielle Amini-Kern, DDS '16, never runs away from a challenge. She recently completed her fifth marathon and has been racing in marathons and triathlons since she was a teenager.

An ice hockey player in high school and college, Amini-Kern entered a triathlon at age 15 seeking new challenges. Since then, she's been hooked on the satisfaction of crossing the finish line after a grueling race. "I like to challenge myself. It's a huge mental burden to put yourself through that pain," she remarks.

Her most recent competition, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and northern Virginia on Oct. 28, was an arduous test of resolve. Thirty-thousand competitors ran the 26.2-mile race into the powerful winds of approaching Hurricane Sandy. In those extreme conditions, physical preparations are just as important as mental determination, she says. Despite the exhausting circumstances, she finished the race in less than four hours.

She believes the relentlessness of competition puts everything into perspective - even her studies at UMSOD. "Knowing that I'm able to do it makes me have a different outlook on other challenges. Dental school is tough, but if I can put myself through a marathon, I can get through my classes," Amini-Kern remarks.

Challenging coursework fuels her determination to become a dentist, which is an aspiration she's held since elementary school. As a daughter of dentists, she first experienced the profession during her childhood in Howard County. She remembers helping file charts in her mother's dental office when she was 6 years old. Her parents inspired her, but she ultimately chose the career because of its dynamic nature. Dentistry incorporates a multitude of different aspects, from psychology to nutrition. "It's not just working with teeth. The mouth is the entrance to everything else in the body," states Amini-Kern.

So whether she is running uphill with 11 miles to go, or reviewing the classifications of malocclusion, Amini-Kern intends to keep challenging herself.

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