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First year, first applicant: early admission success

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14 September 2017

The Eberly College of Science's Premedicine program launches an early admission opportunity with Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, and nets its first acceptance in junior Richard Ni.

"First applicant, first acceptance, first year—it’s off to a good start," program director Ron Markle says with a smile. "That, I think, we can feel good about; and I fully expect that we’re going to see more students jump at this opportunity."

Richard Ni and Ron Markle
Richard Ni and Ron Markle

Promptly following the first announcement of this early admission opportunity in June 2017, Richard Ni—a science major with a minor in cello performance—submitted the program's first application and subsequently secured its first offer and acceptance of early admission to the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

"I rushed to get my application in, not expecting much," says Ni. "But I did get an interview, and I thought 'Oh, God, I have to get this!'" 

"My father is a dentist," he continues. "All through my life I was exposed to it. I was working in his office at an early age. So, to me, dentistry was the only choice. I saw how hard he worked and the way he made people feel better and smile."

On the subject of Ni's unique qualifications, Markle speaks unequivocally: "Richard's self-motivation to jump on this opportunity really sets him apart; and it's pretty clear that he's making a well-informed decision on a career track that he feels a good affinity for."

But beyond a hearty dose of "get-up-and-go" and a certain affinity, what else does such success require of someone in Ni's position? 

First addressing the perennial topic of grades, Ni notes that his GPA "isn't stellar, but it's good enough—as long as you show commitment and passion, schools will pick up on that."

No doubt, Ni's undergraduate research experience and extracurriculars also helped to elevate him above his fellow applicants: he works in the lab of Penn State Distinguished Professor Jeff Peters and with Jon Epstein at Penn, while also serving as vice president of Penn State's Music Service Club and as outreach chair of the Eberly College of Science's Student Council. 

"With the Music Service Club, we use music as a way to serve the community, going to nursing homes and hospitals," he explains. "For the college's student council, I'm doing recruiting and outreach to local high schools, and starting initiatives within our own college."

About his research, Ni says "It's a great learning experience, and I think research actually cultivates a thinking process and a problem-solving process to approach other things in life."

Ni's excitement is palpable as the conversation turns to his future at Rutgers.

"It’s an amazing school!" he beams. "I’m a New Jersey resident, so, obviously, going there would be a great choice. I'm planning to specialize and do some continuing education, and I feel that, going to Rutgers, I have an opportunity to save some money and then continue my education. Another thing, I know I'll have good clinical experience working with an underserved community."

Reflecting, finally, on his experience and success with this new early admission program, Ni says he thinks it's "a great opportunity, really, for people who have their mind set on dentistry at an early age to show that to dental schools and get an opportunity for a decision." 


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