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Roots run deep for future dentist

Though he grew up in Minot, N.D., Merrick McMahon is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and spent a lot of time visiting friends and relatives on the reservation.

It’s there where he saw firsthand some of the disparities in access to quality health care for the mostly rural Native American population. Whether limited by the number of IHS dentists, lack of public transportation, poverty or nutritional education, dental care often was severely lacking.

“There’s just a lot of issues in terms of health care, especially dentistry,” McMahon said. “I want to do whatever I can to help people — whether that’s relieving pain or providing other services.”

McMahon has used his time at UND to challenge himself to become not just a medical care provider but a leader, working as a chemistry tutor, teaching assistant and medical researcher.

“The day I stepped onto campus, I really was not so confident in my abilities,” McMahon said. “But then I met several mentors who helped me gain that confidence…I am a lot more confident than when I started four years ago. I’m a lot stronger leader and believe I can do anything I set my mind to do. I’m confident now I can take my life wherever I choose.”

Read more of Merrick’s story and other Leaders In Action.