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UK alum finds educational path, blending agriculture and dentistry

UK alum finds educational path, blending agriculture and dentistry

UK alum finds educational path, blending agriculture and dentistry

Alum Christopher Chance owns a successful dental practice utilizing his diverse education from the University of Kentucky, receiving the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award — recognizing Black alums that have positively impacted people’s lives.

LEXINGTON, Ky.—

Christopher Chance, DMD, believes in taking unconventional paths toward success. Chance’s life is full of unique experiences and individuals that have aided in his pursuit of excellence. This legacy began with his family, continued in his education and manifested in his career. 

Thanks to the University of Kentucky, and meeting the right people along the way, Chance was inspired to pursue two different educational programs – agriculture and dentistry – and establish his pediatric dental office in 2020. 

Christopher Chance graduating from the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Christopher Chance is a two-time graduate of UK, with degrees from Martin-Gatton CAFE and the College of Dentistry. Pictured (L-R) are Kelsey Menegotto, DMD; Jelana Bryan, DMD; Ashley Wright, DMD; Emerald Powell, DMD; Cynthia Thomas, DMD; Michael Scott, Jr. DMD; Lisa Rae Otude, DMD and Christopher Chance, DMD. Photo provided by Christopher Chance.

In 2010, Chance graduated with his undergraduate degree in agricultural and medical biotechnology (ABT) from the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Four years later, Chance graduated with a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry degree from the UK College of Dentistry – following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Kenneth Chance, Sr. 

Finding agriculture pathway 

When Chance attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, he was still deciding where he wanted to go to college and what he wanted to do.  

To graduate, Chance needed to satisfy a community service requirement. He decided to fulfill this at the UK College of Dentistry’s Saturday Morning Dental Clinic, a college student-led clinic serving the needs of children who have difficulty accessing quality dental care.  

“The Saturday Morning Dental Clinics opened my eyes to the impact we can have on patients and their families,” Chance states, who was the only non-dental personnel at the time.  

This unique experience piqued Chance’s curiosity further, allowing him to ask questions and learn from other UK dental students and doctors. This is where Chance became enamored with dentistry and decided to further his education in college. 

UK and MANRRS 

UK staff member Emmett “Buzz” Burnam, director for diversity recruitment, has been expanding the University’s inclusive excellence initiatives for more than four decades and recruited Chance to attend UK. Considering the advice of his mentors, Chance chose biology as his major. 

Upon arriving on campus, Chance took advantage of the Freshman Summer Program, orchestrated by the UK Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES). He saw it as an early opportunity to build connections and relationships at UK. 

Chance then connected with advisors Ahlishia Shipley, PhD and Quentin Tyler, PhD affiliated with UK MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences), a program housed at Martin-Gatton CAFE that encourages and empowers minorities to pursue degrees in agriculture and related fields on campus and beyond. 

Tyler and Shipley were integral in helping Chance reshape his academic interests, which led to changing his major from biology to ABT. The ABT program is about “life sciences” which includes biotechnology, human health, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability.  

Chance recalls that switching programs helped unlock what an agriculture degree could do for him. 

“Agriculture plays an instrumental role in overall health,” said Chance. “In the ABT program, you become versatile by taking courses in food science, dietetics, and human nutrition and the science-related courses. In dentistry, think about how much food affects people’s health and their teeth. My diverse education at Martin-Gatton CAFE absolutely set me a part when applying to dental school and still helps me be successful today.” 

Chance decided to become an active member of UK MANRRS and a college ambassador, helping other students find and explore their educational path at Martin-Gatton CAFE. 

“During my time at UK, the efforts of the students in UK MANRRS yielded an influx in African American students enrolling in the college,” Chance describes. “Today, the UK chapter is the premiere chapter in the entire country. Many alums are achieving success as reputable physicians, pharmacists, dentists, lawyers, public service leaders, business owners, deans at several universities – even serving in the White House.” 

Black excellence and outreach 

Christopher Chance receiving the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award at the University of Kentucky.
Christopher Chance (middle) receiving the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award at the University of Kentucky. Pictured with Carmen Agouridis (left) and recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer award, Harrison Goode (right). Pictured provided by UK Photo.

Chance was recognized with the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award in earlier this academic year. 

Each of UK’s academic colleges selects at least one Black alumnus whose faith, hard work and determination has positively affected the lives of people to receive this prestigious award. This year marks the 75th anniversary of desegregation and Lyman T. Johnson’s legacy resulting in his successful lawsuit against the University of Kentucky, becoming the first African American student at the university. 

“This recognition is very humbling, but we must continue to show tangible progress” Chance said. “We must continue to help others reach their full potential, be genuine and show them how success can be possible. I also believe representation is crucial, and young people need to see that excellence from them is possible and necessary to see the change we all strive for. I see this award as an opportunity to continue being a servant leader in my community and helping youth find their pathway forward.” 

Christopher Chance visits local elementary and middle schools, talking about the importance of a college education. Photo courtesy of Oaks Point Pediatric Dentistry.
Christopher Chance visits local elementary and middle schools, talking about the importance of a college education. Photo courtesy of Oaks Point Pediatric Dentistry.

In 2010, Chance received the Mr. Black UK award and was recognized for his outstanding student achievement in the areas of scholarship, leadership and service at a Lyman T. Johnson awards banquet. 

Chance is currently raising his family and operating his business, Oaks Point Pediatric Dentistry, in Houston Texas. He continues to serve his community by visiting elementary and middle schools, talking about the importance of a college education in fields like agriculture, health science and dentistry. 

“I want to be a resource in the community,” Chance said. “I want to do my part in educating more African American students about my profession. We make up roughly 3% of the dentists in the United States. The joy on the faces of families in my community when they see me at my office is worth every hardship I had to endure to get there.” 

UK memories 

Chance reflects fondly on his experiences at UK Martin-Gatton CAFE, having the opportunity to meet so many people from different backgrounds and participate in events like Ag Roundup, Kentucky 4-H, Kentucky Future Farmers of America, UK MANRRS and more. 

“Reaching back to those behind you and helping guide them forward is a paramount part of your journey,” said Chance. “No matter who you are or where you are in life, there is someone who could benefit from your story because your journey is not your own.” 

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The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.


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