I have always counted my blessings in life – I was raised in a vibrant city at a rather prosperous period of time. I have parents who encouraged and supported my siblings and I to get a meaningful education – All four of us graduated from the University of Hong Kong (2010 ranked #1 in Asia, #21 worldwide), something which was very rare. As kids, we never starved and never needed to worry about a shelter over our heads although my parents came from humble backgrounds.
If it were not because we had great teachers all along, life would have been very different. My super intelligent father (only second to my mother) is certainly a one-of-a-kind thinker/philosopher/businessman/teacher. I attended the St Louis School, a Catholic high school with unusual teachers, including a reptile scientist/national class soccer player who was an excellent biology teacher.
The time that I spent at Northwestern University, Chicago and UCLA during my post-graduate dental training was absolutely life-changing too. I credit this to my 2 ‘Johns’. My early exposure to my prosthodontics specialty under Northwestern’s post-graduate program director, Dr. John Chai, was nicely complemented when I went on to study maxillofacial prosthodontics under the world famous professor, Dr. John Beumer at UCLA.
The maxillofacial prosthodontic program at UCLA is known to be number one in the world. I still remember trying to assess my odds of getting into UCLA and my conclusion was that the odds were very low. Yet, with the help of Dr. Michael Engleman, I ended up as one of three maxillofacial prosthodontics residents at UCLA in 1992 – my co-residents included a chair professor from Korea (Dr Hong Soon-Ho) and a sought after opinion leader in prosthodontics from the mid-west, USA (Dr Robert Faulkner). What impressed me was that both of my 2 ‘Johns’ are super high IQ human beings – I can still remember the great feeling of enlightenment when I listened to them.
Hearing him in his lectures again after so many years reminded me how lucky I was that he was my teacher 18 years ago… and he is now a friend. It was also wonderful to see that my two little girls, aged 6 and 7, had so much fun shaking hands with the numero uno in maxillofacial prosthodontics and a giant in implant dentistry.
I am currently active in teaching as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Dentistry, and also with the NUS Graduate Diploma in Dental Implantology. Why do I teach? Besides enjoying the interaction with the students and fellow dentists, I do it because I owe it to all my great teachers along the way.
Happy Teachers Day!!!
Dr. Ansgar C. Cheng is a Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics (Teeth Replacement) with Specialist Dental Group™. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the National University of Singapore. He has a special interest in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry and treatment of medically compromised patients, including cancer patients. For more information about Dr. Cheng, click here