What is your name, what year did you graduate, and what was your study?
My name is David J. Swiecinski. I graduated from Penn State in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in biology and from Temple University Dental School in 1985 with a doctor of dental surgery degree.
Where are you now, and what are you doing career wise?
I became full owner of my own practice in December of 1988 and was a solo practitioner until I sold my practice to a younger dentist in October of 2019.
I began teaching part time in August of 2006 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine as a clinical associate professor. After selling my practice, I expanded my time at the school and was later promoted to assistant group leader, which gave me more responsibilities in the grading and evaluation of the students' progression in clinic.
What got you interested in wanting to speak in student classes, and have you done this before?
Maureen Kilian had reached out to me a couple years ago as an alumni representative. She was looking for more alumni in the South Jersey area to contribute in ways beyond financial donations, to advise and converse and work with Penn State undergraduates and potential undergraduates. I have a great love for my alma mater and just wanted to help in whatever way I could. Maureen put me in touch with Melissa Krajcovic, and here I am.
Have you been involved with Penn State in other ways since graduation?
I became a lifetime member of the alumni association and joined the local alumni chapter but never participated in any of their functions. I have been a long time benefactor to the Eberly College and general scholarship funds.
What is a piece of advice you wish you'd known when you were a student?
I have a few caveats I pass on to my students:
1) “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” —John Lennon
2) You are never as great as you are on your best day or as bad as you are on your worst. You are human. As long as you give your best effort every day, that's all you can do. Which leads into number—
3) The best doctors make mistakes. The measure of a great doctor is how he handles and resolves the issue when he does make a mistake. And finally—
4) Never forget you are taking care of the most incredible creation on this planet, the human body. There is a person in that body, and they deserve your respect and compassion no matter who they are. They have entrusted themselves to your care; honor that.
How has it been for you in the dental industry?
I have been in dentistry for 40 years now. I still love what I do and strive to continue to learn more. We need these future dentists to take care of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And I want them to make it even better than what it is now.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Be sure to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’d love to hear what you’ve been up to!