Glover finds motivation to pursue dental dream

Motivation for University of Minnesota School of Dentistry student Andrew Glover hasn’t been a problem throughout his life.

The 30-year-old DDS student from Inver Grove Heights was accepted into the Air Force Academy in 2008, managed a group of more than 100 airman as a 2nd Lieutenant at 23, became an acquisitions officer and managed weapons systems for B-2 bombers. But when it comes to what led him to dental school, his motivation came from a very different place. Namely, from failure.

“I thought I was destined to be a doctor,” Glover said. “I took the MCAT, applied to 11 schools and got 11 rejection letters. That hurt. I thought I was doing everything right. I took (the MCAT) a second time and actually did worse.  At that time, around 2013-14, I was in the dumps. I was trying to get back into medicine and it dawned on me that my door was closed.”

For someone who accomplished nearly every goal he set out for himself, failure and rejection proved uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

Medical school’s loss, however, became the School of Dentistry’s gain. But to get it in, Andrew had to rely on that same motivation that propelled him through the Air Force Academy.

“I had to buckle down so hard,” Glover said. “For seven months, I studied 4-5 hours a day while working full time for the Air Force while stationed in Ohio. I had no friends because this is all I did, but I got a good enough score to get in. I checked all the boxes and left nothing to chance. So while medical school didn’t pan out, if I didn’t learn those lessons, I wouldn’t be here.”

Since then, Glover has applied those same lessons and motivations he acquired in the military to the clinics and classroom. He’s also discovered what being a dentist can mean.

“Helping people, that’s why I got into it.The appointments where you work on the front teeth of someone who is afraid to smile and then they leave in tears because they can smile. Getting people out of pain. Those things are important to me.”

“The other reason is the flexibility. My dad is a doctor and in medicine it’s very ‘silo-ed’ – you go to school, then residency, then that’s it. Dentistry has specialties, but in general, if you are interested in it, you can go do it. As a general dentist, it’s liberating and awesome.”

In addition to graduating this year, Glover plans to pursue a periodontology specialty. He also stays connected to his military service as an active member of the Air Force Reserve in Minnesota.

The School of Dentistry boasts a tradition of educating those who served in the military before coming to the school or bringing in teachers who learned the dental trade while on active duty. Among those military members Glover has connected with are Dr. Donald Clausen (Prosthodontics, Navy), Dr. Brent Larson (Orthodontics, Air Force), periodontics resident Dr. John Pizarek (Navy) and classmates Richard Ruder and Carol Ellens.

For Glover, who also serves as fourth-year student president, the lessons learned in the military – dedication, motivation, communication and teamwork – may mean more now in this COVID-19 environment.

“I would just encourage my classmates – from DDS students, dental therapy students and dental hygiene students and everyone – to embrace the change and do everything you can to make this school as good as it can be,” Glover said. “I realize that the students have a lot to do with the environment and culture of the school. Embrace that. Keep working and build those relationships with other people. It’s the only way to get better. It’s not magic or money. It’s only by us working together, asking what are your needs, saying what my needs are, and bringing those things together so we can work together.”

Andrew Glover
Andrew Glover