N. WAYNE HIATT RISING STAR AWARD: DR. WINNIE WONG
Dr. Winnie Wong has served in many leadership roles within organized dentistry. In recognition of her efforts, she will receive the Ohio Dental Association N. Wayne Hiatt Rising Star Award on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Callahan Celebration of Excellence, held in conjunction with the 157th ODA Annual Session.
“Over the past several years, I have witnessed Dr. Wong’s commitment, growth, and understanding as a servant leader in organized dentistry and the profession,” wrote Dr. Kari Cunningham in her nomination letter. “Dr. Wong wasted no time getting involved in leadership when she returned to Northeast Ohio upon completion of her residency program years ago. She serves alongside me as an active member of the alumni association board of directors of CWRU School of Dental Medicine and is supportive of the programs and activities of the association as we have begun to host more in-person events. Outside of our alma mater, Dr. Wong has served in many leadership roles in organized dentistry at the local, state, and national levels. She possesses all the qualities that a recipient of this illustrious award should have.”
Wong said she is honored to receive the award.
Wong said that when she was younger, she didn’t know what she wanted to be, but knew she wanted to be in the medical field.
“Two days after high school graduation, I tore my ACL,” she said. “I hated everything about it and the surgery. The doctor, basically told me I had torn my ACL and wasn’t going to play volleyball, and had no bedside manner. Then I thought about how I had three dental surgeries and four years of braces, and I still loved my dentist. I enjoyed going to dentist, so it was something I could see myself doing. I wanted to help others who don’t like dental work have a great experience.”
Wong earned her DMD from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in 2016 and then went on to complete a General Practice Residency at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. She then moved back to Cleveland where she worked as an associate dentist, and last year became co-owner of a dental practice.
Wong said her favorite part about being a dentist is helping patients have a positive experience.
“I think a lot of people feel bad about their teeth and are embarrassed; I really try to make my space a judgment free zone,” she said. “I enjoy being able to take someone who is apprehensive and hasn’t been to the dentist and giving them a really great experience so they become a regular patient. Being able to give them that confidence to come back in to smile, to say ‘hey I actually like the dentist,’ that really makes a difference.”
Wong’s involvement in organized dentistry began in dental school as part of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). After moving back to Cleveland, Cunningham invited her to her first membership meeting.
With the Greater Cleveland Dental Society, Wong currently serves as president-elect and chair of the New Dentist Committee. She has also served as chair of the Membership and Communications Committee. With the ODA, she serves on the Subcouncil on Diversity and Inclusion and as vice chair of the ODA Leadership Development Committee. She has served as a delegate to the ODA and alternate delegate to the ADA.
Wong said she thinks organized dentistry is important because of the camaraderie it provides for young and old dentists alike.
“It’s a network that you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s better than any study group,” she said. “We’re fighting for our profession. Plus, the CE that comes along with it is always beneficial, you can never have too much CE. Learning about new techniques helps make you the best dentist you can be.”
Wong said she’s passionate about organizing networking events for new dentists and helping get younger dentists involved in organized dentistry.
“I don’t think enough younger dentists know about the benefits of organized dentistry and camaraderie,” she said. “Having a network behind you and being able to bounce ideas off of people is so helpful.”
Wong also actively gives back to the community, and serves as a volunteer at the Open M Ministry of Faith, Harry and Fran Donovan Dental Clinic in Akron, Give Kids A Smile Day, Cleveland Asian Festival Health Pavilion, Medworks, Safe Smiles and as a clinical student tutor through the mentorship program at CWRU School of Dental Medicine.
Wong also serves on the CWRU Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Outside of dentistry, Wong enjoys gardening and foraging for mushrooms, hiking and playing volleyball.
Wong said she couldn’t have done any of this without the help of her parents and her husband, Jeff Schroeder, who is very supportive.
The Rising Star Award recognizes a young leader in dentistry with outstanding leadership and initiative and a strong commitment to volunteerism within the community and the profession. This person must demonstrate promise for continued and future accomplishments within the dental profession, and must have been in practice for 10 years or less.