“I wouldn’t have been able to get into MUSC without help from The Citadel”: Three Citadel cadets are headed to MUSC’s dental school

Photo: Three Citadel cadets have been accepted into MUSC’s dental school. Left to right: Alex Shirley; Evans Banks; John Ropp.

Many Citadel cadets already have their post-graduation plans lined up before graduation — and among them are three cadets who will be going to the Medical University of South Carolina, or MUSC, dental school. Cadets Evans Banks, John Ropp and Alex Shirley will be attending MUSC in the fall where they’ll learn all aspects of general dentistry.

These cadets attribute their successful acceptance into MUSC not only to the core values instilled in them at The Citadel, but also to the pre-health advising program.

Cadet John Ropp, a Biology major from Hartsville, South Carolina, discussed the support he received from his pre-health advisors, as well as other faculty members at The Citadel.

“I received help and guidance in every step of the application process from my advisors and other Citadel faculty. My pre-health advisor, Dr. Sarah Imam, prepared me by overseeing my independent research, providing interview preparations and coaching, and helping me become involved in test preparations and numerous volunteer opportunities through The Citadel Alpha Epsilon Delta Society,” said Ropp. “Dr. Deirdre Ragan and The Citadel Honors Program helped me plan my shadowing experiences and pursue research opportunities. I was also given exposure to the dental field and assistance with the application process by Dr. Kathy Zanin and my involvement with The Citadel’s Pre-Health Society. And finally, I had interview coaching and practice sessions given to me by Dr. Patrice Capers of The Citadel’s Biology Department.”

Cadet Evans Banks, a Chemistry major from Summerville, South Carolina, has spent the past year interning at the North Charleston Dental Outreach Center, where he’s had the opportunity to get hands-on experience and gain invaluable insights and skills. For Banks, two values that The Citadel taught him— academics and leadership — have made him confident for the challenges he’ll face at MUSC.

“Academically, as a chemistry major, it has not been easy. But that’s going to help me at MUSC; 30 credit hours sounds challenging, but I am prepared for that challenge academically. Leadership wise, MUSC was looking for that skill. They’re looking for people that are going to be strong and be ready to go out and perform in the world. It takes leadership to handle a situation where you are in control of someone’s health,” said Banks. “The Citadel has helped me prepare for that, along with the application process itself. I wouldn’t have been able to get into MUSC without help from The Citadel.”

Before coming to The Citadel, Cadet Alex Shirley, a Biology and Business Administration major from Greer, South Carolina, was certain that he wanted to attend medical school. It wasn’t until he met with pre-health advisors and a Citadel graduate that he realized his true passion would be found elsewhere. Shirley was also involved in The Citadel’s medical camp in Kenya.

“When I came to The Citadel, I thought that I wanted to pursue medical school with the goal of going into orthopedics. At the time, the pandemic still was hindering internship and shadowing opportunities in the hospital. One of our pre-health advisors, Dr. Kathy Zanin, connected me with a Citadel alumnus and local oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Drane Oliphant. Through that connection, I had the chance to shadow him for six weeks,” said Shirley. “I loved his office environment, the procedures and the opportunity to change a patient’s quality of life through dentistry. This experience sparked my initial interest and after participating in multiple dental outreach experiences, both domestically and abroad, I realized the incredible opportunity I would have to give back and serve patient populations that cannot afford quality care.”

These cadets extended their gratitude to their advisors, faulty members and The Citadel overall for their collective success. They shared a similar piece of advice for other cadets and students who want to pursue a similar path — it’s never too early to get started. Shirley met with pre-health advisors at the end of his freshmen year to map out a plan that led all the way to the day of his acceptance letter. Both Banks and Ropp advocate for others to join pre-health clubs and societies on campus, emphasizing that these connections will open doors to valuable internship and shadowing opportunities.

For cadets and students interested in pre-health professions, The Citadel is strongly demonstrating itself as an institution with many resources for this career path. In comparison to the national average, The Citadel has a very high acceptance rate to dental and medical schools and offers a wide range of majors that effectively prepare cadets and students for successful careers in healthcare after graduation.