Internet Edition

Issue No. 7, June 2001

BDS Honours - Cream of the Crop

Getting through the BDS course itself is already a rough and tough path. But getting Honours on top of that is something that one should cherish. From 1937 until 1999, only 5 persons had got the honours. And the last person to achieve this honours was none other than our present dean, A/P Keson Tan and that was in 1985. Therefore, it is such that we should celebrate the fact that Marlene Teo managed to end this dry run after 15 years. It is indeed a good beginning for the new millennium.

Dr Marlene Teo

Marlene graduated last year and is now working in National Dental Centre. She lives with her parents and one younger sister. Her father is a medical doctor, her mother is a former Biology teacher and her sister is a medical student. She attended the Raffles Girls' School and later the Raffles Junior College.

Interview- Marlene Teo

Q 1 : Congratulations Marlene! We are proud of you. How did you feel when you found out that you have achieved the highest accolade - the Honours degree?

Marlene: Thank you! I felt disbelief at first. I was on holiday in Melbourne and had just got off the plane when my sister thrusted a bunch of flowers in my face and screamed "AAAAAHHHH!!!! Congrats on getting Honours jie!" I was like "huh?" I had to call 5 classmates to check if she was serious. It took 5 days for the information to sink in but when it did, I was so happy! Of course, after the
initial Euphoria had died down, I felt the external and internal pressure of
living up to the standards set by the previous honours degree holders. They
have done a lot with their careers and have good standing in the dental
fraternity. In order to achieve as much as they have, I realise that hard
work does not stop after graduation. It will be a continuous process
throughout my career.

Q 2 : Could you let us have some insight into your formula of your success?

Marlene: In dentistry it's all about not giving up when things get rough. I was also lucky to have family, and friends who were loving and supportive. It was
important to me that they were there for me after a hard day in school.
My clinical partner was also my good friend and I learnt a lot from him in
the clinics; Couldn't have done it without him too.

Q 3 : Who/what was your greatest inspiration?

Marlene: I have never told her, but my greatest inspiration was and still is A/Prof Grace Ong. I admire her ability to balance her family and career. You forget how small-sized she is when she teaches because she's so dynamic and puts her points across very well. As a student, you also feel that she is not only concerned about our grades but also our personal lives. She also takes care of her husband and kids without a maid in the house. I want to learn some of those time management skills from her!

Q 4 : Could you let us have a peek into your personal life eg what is your favourite past time and interests?

Marlene: My favourite past time is sleeping. I need at least 9 hours of sleep
everyday or I get REALLY CRANKY. I also love watching " Survivor" and "Who wants to be a millionaire". Congrats to Edwin Tng, the third year dental student for winning $32000. I am so envious! I also love dancing and singing. However, I'm a closet singer ie. in the shower and car as I'm not very good.

Q 5 : How was life as a dental student and what was the best memory you had as a dental student?

Marlene: Dental School was tough. It was no easy ride. Failing competency tests, redoing dentures, feeling permanently tired and crabby became routine after a while. Looking back however, I would choose to go to dental school all
over again. I learnt not to be a baby and that you could achieve things by
learning from your mistakes and working extra hard at things you were not
good at.

My best memory is of the dance we put up for the dinner and dance at the
Ritz Carlton. The dance was choreographed by Dr Kaan Sheung Kin and we put
on fake hair, fake eyelashes and did this outlandish dance to the tunes of
Jennifer Lopez and the Backstreet Boys. It was an experience to be so
totally out of character and to let it all hang loose.

Q 6 : If you were to give advice to your juniors in one sentence, what
would it be?

Marlene: Hang In there…… Life is good after dental school!

Q 7 : What is your greatest challenge as a clinician now?

Marlene: My greatest challenge is to get patients to trust my clinical judgement. I also want my patients to leave my chair feeling less fearful of dentists and to become more aware of their dental needs.

Q 8 : What are your future goals?

Marlene: At present, I have an interest in Orthodontics and Periodontics. As yet, I am still unsure about which path would interest me more. I'm learning so
many new things every day and both disciplines fascinate me in different
ways. I would like to play a part in promoting dentistry in Singapore. I
feel that many Singaporeans are not dentally aware and many people have the
misconception that dentist only cause pain and pull teeth. Hopefully I can
change that in the future.

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