Dennis Hartlieb

Finding Your Way in Dentistry with Dr. Amanda Seay

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What happens when you are passionate about the arts but then find your way into dentistry? 

Don't miss this amazing discussion with Dr. Amanda Seay that kicks off Season 2 of the Dental Online Training Sharecast! In part one of this conversation between Dr. Hartlieb and Dr. Seay (pronounced SEA), Dennis and Amanda dive into Amanda's background and childhood experiences that explore what led her into dentistry. Amanda talks about her father's immigration from Vietnam; how she was accepted into dental school at NYU and decided to go for it, and how that journey led her into a fulfilling career that she loves.


From Dr. Seay's site:

Dr. Amanda Seay received her dental degree from the elite New York University College of Dentistry, a global leader at the forefront of cosmetic and restorative aesthetics. She is a clinical instructor at the Kois Center, and has also published articles covering the art and techniques of aesthetic dentistry and dental materials. Dr. Seay is Accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the world's most recognized advanced cosmetic dentistry program. This means she's dedicated hundreds of hours to learning the most advanced techniques to provide you with the smile you've always wanted. She combines her artistic talent, her passion for medicine, and excellence in clinical dentistry to create her own dental practice, focused on cosmetic and restorative dentistry. That’s dentistry redefined! When not in the office, Dr. Seay enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children. Her hobbies include cooking, traveling, exercising, photography, health and fitness, and beauty.
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Read the Full Interview Transcript Below

Dennis 0:02  
Hey, Dental Online Trainers! Dr. Dennis Hartlieb here with you. Today, I'm going to play the role of mixologist. That's right. We're going to create a cocktail. In today's cocktail, we're going to combine one part perseverance, one part of overcoming adversity, one part of just not quite knowing what you want to be when you grew up someday, and you're going to add a couple dashes of a best friend that lead you to your chosen profession. Well, you mix that all together, and you get to understand my guest today, Dr. Amanda Seay. And in part one of our conversation, Amanda is going to talk about her background, and the influences of being a child of Vietnamese parents, and how her best friend just convinced her that she should be going to dental school. So kick back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Dr. Amanda Seay. 

Dennis 0:56  
Hello, Dental Online Trainers. Dr. Dennis Hartlieb. with you again for another exciting Sharecast. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with one of my good friends, Amanda Seay, who is joining us today from her comfort in South Carolina. Amanda is someone who doesn't really need much introduction if you... unless you live under a rock! We'll talk about her presence on social media and stuff a little bit later. But if you don't know about Amanda, I want to give you a little bit of a background before I bring her in. So Amanda -- oh, and she's got a puppy in the background! And you may hear my cat come in and sit on my computer and disrupt things as we go along, but that's okay. We don't mind the dog. So, Amanda is a University of South Carolina graduate for undergrad. And she went to NYU for her dental school experience. She is -- and I want to learn all about how she got to where she was or where she is and how her formative years and stuff -- but just for those who don't know, she's a fellow accredited member of the AACD. A recent fellow of 2020, if I remember correctly, right?

Amanda 2:00  
Yeah. Class of 2020!

Dennis 2:03  
Class of 2020. And she's Co-Founder with Adamo, and I won't even say... I'll just say Adamo Elvis because I can't say his last name properly, of ImP.RES, their teaching program. She is a devoted Koisian, or Kois clinical instructor. So I call you guys all Koisians. I don't know if that's... I'd take that as a compliment. You're a clinical instructor, you're on their advisory board, I think you do a whole bunch of stuff with the Kois Teaching Center. You're a KOL for Ivoclar. And so that's a key opinion leader for Ivoclar and other people, other companies out there. You've written a ton of publications. You're in private practice. You have, I think, four kids, and you have one husband, if I recall. Is that correct?
Amanda 2:48  
Yes. That's correct!

Dennis 2:50  
All right. So Amanda, welcome to our Sharecast! We call this a Sharecast because it's all about sharing. For me what's... what I... so, you know, at my age, because I'm you know, I'm getting to that age where you can just speak freely and openly... This Sharecast is because I get to sit down and ask people questions, things I'd like to talk to them about, when the only time you can usually do these type of questions when you're sitting around over a cocktail. But the reality is, there's only too many people around to have these sort of intimate conversations. So this is my excuse to be able to ask questions that I've always wanted to ask people. And so you're our next guest. And I want to ask about all sorts of stuff about who you are and how you got to be where you are and stuff. So welcome to our Sharecast.

Amanda 3:33  
Thank you for having me, Dennis.

Dennis 3:35  
Yeah, it's kind of long winded, wasn't it?

Amanda 3:37  
No, it was great. That was that was quite the intro. I appreciate that.

Dennis 3:41  
Did you know that you did all that? Oh, and I forgot. I think you helped create the vaccine for COVID-19, too, in your spare time! Did you not? Right. You were instrumental in that?

Amanda 3:51  
I was on the task force!

Dennis 3:55  
Oh my goodness! So Amanda, I've been fortunate to be able to teach a lot of dental students through Marquette and stuff. And I have a little study club that I run, or actually someone else is running, one of the former students! A lot of female young dentists and stuff. And when I sort of, you know, I posed to them, "Hey, who would you guys like me to get on on my podcast, my Sharecast?" And they said, "Oh, you've got to get Amanda Seay on!" I'm like... So you are, you're beloved, and you're such a great... you're an inspiration, and you're a great influencer for a young female dentists out there. I'm sure you hear that all the time. And if you don't, I'm here to tell you that I've, second hand, I have people coming up, and they want to hear from Amanda Seay. And so, thank you for joining us. It's really... It's an honor and a pleasure to have you here. So I'm so excited to talk to you because I have so many questions to talk to you about!

Amanda 4:52  
Good, fire away!

Dennis 4:54  
Alright, so Amanda, tell me about your background. Where did you grow up in South Carolina?

Amanda 4:58  
No, I did not. I was born... I was born in Virginia Beach. And I lived there until I was about seven or eight. My dad is first generation to this country and an entrepreneur at heart. So he just has done so many different businesses. And with that, we've moved around quite a bit. So Virginia is where I was born, moved to New Jersey, Maryland. I've called Maryland my home because I was there from middle school till high school. So yeah, I would call Maryland my home. But then after I graduated high school, my parents actually got divorced. And my father moved to Texas, and my mother moved to California. So no one was really in Maryland, which was home for me, anymore. So it was just kind of this period of my life where I didn't really, didn't have a lot of direction, to be honest, you know, because I'm... I feel like I'm so hyper focused now. But at that time, growing up, I just, I didn't know what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, or what the next four years of my life are going to look like even. I mean, I just didn't have a clue.
It was just kind of this period of my life where I didn't really have a lot of direction, to be honest, you know? I feel like I'm so hyper-focused now. But at that time, growing up, I just... I didn't know what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, or what the next four years of my life are going to look like even. I mean, I just didn't have a clue.
Dr. Amanda Seay
Dennis 6:18  
Can I interrupt you for a second? So, two things. First of all, is it true that Virginia is for lovers? Because that's, or is it Virginia Beach is for lovers, right?

Amanda 6:30  
Yes. So it's funny, you know, I only lived there till I was like eight or so. And my father owned a hotel in Virginia Beach. And on the outside, he had the sign that said, Virginia Beach is for lovers. I remember as a kid just reading that and thinking, I don't really understand what that means. What is that? You know, so to answer your question, I don't know the answer to that. I know that it's everywhere in Virginia Beach. But, yeah...

Dennis 6:56  
That's where we used to vacation. When I was a kid, we'd drive down from Detroit. My dad had family in Virginia Beach, and that's where we used to vacation when I was a little kid. So I have really fond memories of Virginia Beach. But I cannot speak to the lover part. Because again, I was a kid. And I can't speak to that. Where did your dad immigrate from?

Amanda 7:15  
Vietnam. So I was born here. I was born here, but my father came over when he was 18. So he was the first in his family to come over here to study, and he came before the war, actually, and was writing letters to his family to tell them like, "This is happening! This, this is really going to happen. We need to find a plan to get out!" And so my father, my grandfather was a judge in Vietnam. So he was actually taken by the communists and imprisoned. So my dad as an 18 year old, it's pretty remarkable. I mean, he came over here, went to community college, worked a full time construction job, graduated in three years, brought his entire family over the next, I don't know, five or six years. They lived in a small house, they all lived there, [he] taught them English, got them clothes, everything... And they're all professionals now! You know, sometimes it's funny. I mean, when I was coming out of dental school, I had all this debt and everything, I complained to my dad, and my dad's like laughing at me, like, "You don't know adversity! You're fine!" You know? It's all good. And it's perspective, it really is sometimes! You know, you realize at 18 years of age, and I think about the person that I was at that age! To do what my dad did? It's pretty incredible!

Dennis 8:38  
The stories of people immigrating to the US, and you hear it over and over, which is I think one of the best things about this country is the stories you get to hear from immigrants and children of immigrants... The success stories, the challenges that they came through! And you look back, and you look at your life and you see it's, you know, first world problems that we have, right, as we talked about before we started the broadcast. And it's fascinating! I cannot imagine, even though you may not have been aware of it as a youngster, that had to affect you in sort of maybe some of the disciplines that you have today, right? And some of the circumstances that you were raised in -- that had to have some sort of bearing on how you sort of became the person you are, no?

Amanda 9:24  
Absolutely! I mean, I think -- I know, I don't think -- I learned perseverance from all of it. I mean, from just the grandfather that I didn't meet for 20 years, but heard all these stories about you know, that living in prison being fed a bowl of rice every day, not seeing his children. I remember that moment of meeting my grandfather for the first time after hearing about it. And just like hearing about my father, I mean, he just never gave up, you know, I mean, he never said how hard something was. He would just do it. He would just put his head down and say, "I'm going to make this happen for my family!" And, you know, we grew up modestly. And my dad became uber successful later in life because, like I said, he was an entrepreneur. But I mean, I grew up modestly. And I just... he worked so hard. And even when he made his money in businesses, it didn't change the way... his work habit. I mean, it was, he was still the same person, he would just always be working or moving to the next project. So, I always learned that from him that -- put your best, and hard work pays off, don't quit! And you know, and with my mom, I think I learned the value of family, and the importance of that, and that they love you unconditionally. And so it's... I don't know, I actually get emotional thinking about it. I learned so much the way I was raised, and for sure, it impacts me. So, you know, here I am, at a place where I can give my children much more than I had growing up. But you know, I want them to know that value in some way. So it's much harder to say, like, clean your toilet, because I grew up. I mean, I cleaned everything, I'm sure you did, too, Dennis!

Dennis 11:21  
Sure. Absolutely. Yeah, for sure!

Amanda 11:24  
But we're at a place where, you know, how do I teach all those same values to my kids, and living in a world of immediate consumption of everything, you know... It's just, it's different. Because while I'm American, I was born here, those, you know, Asian culture, those values that I have, are very much instilled in me, that I want to instill in my children, too.
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Dennis 11:48  
Do you have siblings?

Amanda 11:51  
Yeah, so I'm the oldest of four. I have two brothers and a sister.

Dennis 11:56  
So when you were talking earlier saying that your path then when you were in school, when you were in Maryland, in high school, and stuff... So how did you end up going to USC? First of all, if you're in Maryland, how come not University of Maryland? How'd you end up at USC?

Amanda 12:12  
It's honestly, Dennis... If you would have met me and the person that I was back then... I was a completely different person. And it's funny, because I talked about it before, and the divide was... Not that dental school was the thing that changed me, but before dental school, like I said, I think I was so focused on the hardships of my childhood and wanting it to be different than what it was. So I didn't have focus, right? And my best friend Erin, who still my best friend to this day, she... You might know her, do you know Erin DePalma? 

Dennis 12:52  
I don't. 

Amanda 12:53  
I think you might... but if you saw her, I think you might recognize her. But anyways, her family was the perfect family to me in the sense of they had meals together every night, you know, they took vacations together, they would go to all her school events and watch her, and not that I'm not grateful for what my parents gave me, but it was very different. And so when my parents got divorced, you know, nobody followed up with me. Like they wouldn't know if I apply to colleges, but I did. And I didn't... You know, I only did because I'm like, I saw Erin applying. And I said, "Oh, I guess I've got to apply to colleges!" And I applied to the same schools that she did, because I'm like, "Oh, we're the same. I like the same things that she does. So why not apply to the same schools?" And Villanova was one of them... A lot of northeastern schools. And I came back, and one of my other girlfriends applied to University of South Carolina. And she came back and she says, "I'm going to South Carolina." I said, "Really?" It never even occurred to me to go down south. I said, "Why?" She said, "Oh, it's warm! The weather's nice!" And I was like, "Okay, well, I'll apply there, too!" And so I applied, and I actually got a scholarship. And I just went! I didn't even visit USC, didn't even visit the school. And I remember going down there the week before school, and just being like in culture shock, and not really sure if I had made the right decision, you know?

Dennis 14:34  
I mean, I have to imagine it's a it's a big school, right? There's what 30 to 40,000 students? 

Amanda 14:38  

Dennis 14:39  
Right? And, and I think it's a common story, Amanda. I think people whose parents haven't gone to college, and they don't have that experience... And I had the same thing. I was grew up a blue collar kid. My parents graduated eighth grade. My mom later went back and got a GED. So it was, you know, that was the I was super foreign territory, and then all sudden, you know from your community and then I'll send you around 35,000 other people who are maybe more prepared for the, you know, college experience. It can be a little... it can be a little overwhelming. So you get on campus, and you move into the dorm. Are you rooming with your friend who was going to USC?

Amanda 15:23  
So no, we said... we decided, we were like, "Well, we're going to see each other anyways, so let's room at different places and meet people!" So we did, and I enjoyed USC, I had so much fun, you know? It was great. But again, I had no clue what I wanted to do. And it was like starting around junior year, you have your friends starting to say things like, "Oh, I think I want to go into nursing," or "I'm going to go into business," or "I'm going to move back home," or "I'm going to move here!" And I just remember feeling like, What am I going to do? Like, I don't know where I'm going to live, where I want to live! I don't know where home is. I don't know who I want to be or what career path I had. And all I had as to look up to was yes, my father was really successful, but he was in a million different businesses. And that didn't really speak to my heart in that way. So just feeling really lost, to be honest, Dennis! Still, I was kind of like, I got through high school and I finally got to college and felt like I was on my own and being independent and enjoying myself. But then as I got close to the end, I felt that panic again of like, what's next?
If you would have met me and the person that I was back then... I was a completely different person. And it's funny, because I talked about it before, and the divide was... Not that dental school was the thing that changed me, but before dental school, like I said, I think I was so focused on the hardships of my childhood and wanting it to be different than what it was. So I didn't have focus.
Dr. Amanda Seay
Dennis 16:36  
Yeah, it had to be very stressful, right? 

Amanda 16:39  
Yeah! And so... But luckily, I was always a biology major, because like most Asians, I'm good at science and math. So that was my subject. And so again, I, during the summers, I would go home and live with my friend Erin's family, in Maryland. And so Erin told me, she's like, "I'm applying to dental school!" And I thought, like, that's cool. You know, I mean, it's a doctor. So my parents would be super happy if I became a doctor, right? But it just never even occurred to me because I didn't really grow up even going to the dentist all that often. I mean, this wasn't something my parents did. So just like that, I studied for my DITs and applied to dental schools, without even knowing anything about dentistry, like at all! To the point... and I was very lackadaisical about it, where I didn't research it or do anything. So I had interviews. And I remember I had the interview at NYU, and I went to NYU, and there may be like five other people interviewing at the same time coming in. And the professor sat there and went around, and was like, "Go around the table and just introduce yourself and tell us if there's any area of dentistry that you have particular interest in," And blah, blah, blah, blah... And we went around the room. Thank goodness I didn't go first! 

Dennis 18:03  

Amanda 18:05  
We were going around, and they were like, "Oh, you know, my dad's a prosthodontist. And I definitely think I want to go into prosthodontics." And somebody be like, "I want to do periodontics!" And I didn't... They were naming all these specialties that I literally have never even heard of! And shame on me for not reading up to the profession that I was applying to, but that's... I say that give you an idea of where I was in my life. It was just figuring out the next day, and not really looking ahead. So I came in and I just said, I said, "I'm not sure what area of dentistry I want to go into. But I just know I want to be in dental school!" Which is not entirely true... I mean, I did, but I didn't! I mean, I didn't know what I was going to do next. And it just seemed like the next step. So I got into NYU, and now I'm really independent, right? Really away. You know, I'm living in a city without anybody that I know. No family. And just feeling like for the first time -- Okay, now I really have to be in control of my future! Like I've got to take hold of it! College is fun, but I didn't really focus on anything, and now I'm going to dental school, and I'm paying a tremendous amount to go to dental school and invest in the next four years. So I guess I better like really focus now. And so, I was an okay student. I mean, I had decent grades, but it wasn't until I got into the clinics. I remember, and you know, it sounds cliché, but...

Dennis 19:48  
Before you get into dental school, I want to take a step back because I want to know a little bit more about your undergrad because... You know, it's interesting. I just interviewed Jeff Rouse not too long ago, and he... And so many people I've talked to I know in dentistry, they've gotten into dental school, or they went to dental school because of a friend. They were going through undergrad, and didn't really know what they were going to do. You know, talking to Jeff, he was too busy having fun in undergrad and hadn't really thought about it, and all sudden, he's got to figure out what he's going to do with his life. And it's not it's not an uncommon story where people are like, they're influenced! And I don't know if you ever heard Frank Spear's story on influence how he ended up going into dentistry?

Amanda 20:30  
No, I want to hear it now! 

Dennis 20:32  
So Frank, Frank Spear was going to be a high school football coach, and his biology teacher in college at... Oh, shoot! I can't think of what school it is -- pretty much said, "No, you're not!" and grabbed him by the ear and walked him down to the Pre... what do you call it? Like the pre-medical supervisor, or counselor. And the guy had been a dentist, I think, with that experience. Then Frank was influenced to go into dentistry because a biology teacher took him by the year walking down the hall and said, "No, you need to talk to this guy! You've got more in you! And you need to be, you need to be doing something more!" So I think that's super fascinating. I came from a background where I knew I was going to be a dentist when I was a little kid just because I liked my dentist, and I didn't like my physician. And I knew I want to be like in health sciences, health services. So when you... I want to know about you as an undergrad, because I think those years really, I think they're super influential in what people become. And I was just talking to someone recently who said that the years zero to six are what really influence people on who they become as an adult. I think college years are super formative also. The people that you meet, the situations that you're in, how those all sort of sort of form. So what were you like in college? What was... Like if I met you in college for you? You know, were you in a sorority, were you hanging out? Were you just in the library all the time? Were you going to the Gamecock games? What are you doing in undergrad? 

Amanda 22:05  
Definitely not the latter!

Dennis 22:06  
You did not go to football games?

Amanda 22:09  
Well, I guess I would probably need to back up a little bit more to help you understand the person I was because... So when... I told you I grew up in Virginia Beach, and my dad was always an entrepreneur. And so his first big business was a hotel in Virginia Beach. Now he works very hard, very busy. But like he... the busier and more successful he became, the less present he was at home, right? So, I started doing ballet classes. When I was... Right before we left Virginia Beach, I started. Nothing serious, but I really loved it. And then we moved to New Jersey, and I really, really got into dancing and my dad was so busy in other businesses. So my mom would take me to all these ballet classes and private classes, and I began competing as a soloist in ballet all over the country, actually. And I actually did really well at it. And it became like a passion of mine. Like this is what I want to do. This is who I want to be. That sense. Not... I really had no understanding of how you could do ballet as a career, but I just knew I loved to dance, right? And then my one of my dad's businesses kind of tanked. And basically, he lost it all. And when he lost it all, I was the time taking private courses every day, traveling all over, to not having any dance classes ever. Okay? So then, so we moved at this time to Maryland, after he lost everything. And when when I moved to Maryland, I felt like I lost this part of me. I mean, that was like my self expression, my art, my creativity, my outlet. It was something that I had to do because I was an only child for nine years. So it was like always my mom and I, I felt like, and so, for me dancing was a big part of my childhood.

Dennis 24:21  
It was your identity a little bit, right?

Amanda 24:23  
Yes. So then we go to Maryland, we still can't afford classes because he's still trying to just start up a different business. And so one of... A friend that I met said, "Well, why don't you try it for the cheerleading team?" And I'm like, "I'm not a cheerleader. I'm a dancer, you know, a ballet dancer. It's very different." But it was free at the time, public school cheerleading. It's not free anymore! I can tell you that! But at the time it was. I mean, you just had to buy a pair of saddle shoes and that was it. So I'm like, all right. I mean, it's very different than ballet, but I'll do it. And it was okay, you know, I did it. But then I kept with it in high school, and that's when I, you know, my friend Erin and I went to high school together, and I kept with cheerleading. Well, at one of the competitions at cheerleading, I was recruited by some coaches to be a part of a national team that would go around competing.

Dennis 25:21  
That's serious stuff! I've watched these cheerleading competitions on ESPN, and this is some crazy stuff.

Amanda 25:27  
Yeah, yeah. Right. So I really get like uptight when people think cheerleading is not a sport because depending on what cheerleaders you see, I mean, you know, so...

Dennis 25:38  
That's crazy stuff. I mean, these gymnasts... They are kind of gymnasts. These cheerleaders are doing your super crazy, double backflips off pyramids, and I mean, all sorts of acrobatics. It's insane and intense.

Amanda 25:51  
Well, but here's the twist, Dennis, right? Because I wasn't a gymnast. I didn't grow up doing backflips. I was ballet dancer. So I know how to move my body. But I can't do flips. So I was recruited by this team, and so honored. Here I am like, oh my gosh, feeling like this is incredible. Like I'm on top of the world, right? And then I go and meet the team. I'm the only person in the whole team who can't do gymnastics, like flips and stuff. I can stunt, I can... You can throw me in the air, you can do anything. But I can't do backflips. I wasn't trained that way, right? 

Dennis 26:34  
Sure. Right. 
I really had no understanding of how you could do ballet as a career, but I just knew I loved to dance, right? And then my one of my dad's businesses kind of tanked. And basically, he lost it all. And when he lost it all, I was at the time taking private courses every day, traveling all over, to not having any dance classes ever. So then, so we moved at this time to Maryland, after he lost everything. And when I moved to Maryland, I felt like I lost this part of me. I mean, that was like my self expression, my art, my creativity, my outlet. 
Dr. Amanda Seay
Amanda 26:35  
So it's this dichotomy on the one hand of feeling like I can do anything, and then the other hand feeling almost like a fraud. You know, like, why did you...?

Dennis 26:47  
That's called the first day of practicing dentistry after you get your dental degree.

Amanda 26:51  
Yeah, well, right! A very familiar feeling! Yeah. But I felt like, gosh, like I shouldn't be here. I'm the only person who can't do this. Well, long story short, I go with this team, and at one of the camps one year... In the world of cheerleading, there's two companies, there's UCA, which is Universal Cheerleaders Association, and there's NCA, which is National Cheerleaders Association, and as a high school, college, whatever, you usually go to one or the other. So we went to NCA camp, and at the camp, the NCAA instructors approached me and said, We would like for you to try out to be an instructor. Now I think you can just apply, but back then you had to be asked to apply. So I applied, and I got in. And so once you become an instructor, it's your job now. You pick the schools that you're going to go to, where you're going to travel, and base your schedule off of all of that. So, on the summers during college, I would travel, and I was an NCA instructor. And I traveled to all these schools to teach the cheerleaders at the camps. Again, the first day of every camp, you meet these instructors from all over the country that you've never met before. And the first thing you do is figure out the routine and what you're going to teach and assess everybody's skill set so that you can get the routine. Sure, I can do everything except tumble, right? So again, it's like this familiar feeling. So I just never felt like I could be on top of what I wanted to do, like feeling really good, but not good enough. You know what I mean? And so... but it would always be fine. And I would, I would go and teach and teach. And that summer, my first year, I was really nervous to go back and see what... because they rank you, the veteran instructors rank the rookie instructors in the country... And see, and, you know, I'm the only person, Dennis, out of all the instructors, who can't tumble. And I got back and I actually won an award for top 25 rookie instructors! And so I remember that award just for me feeling like okay, you know, like maybe you have something to offer that's different, and maybe you can't do everything that everybody else can do. And that's okay. Right? But that sense of defeat was in my own mind, in a sense. It was this game of mental toughness for me to just kind of figure out like, how much I believe in what I can do and what my capabilities were. But it's like I could never fully give myself permission to believe it or grasp it. I just lived in this place of going back and forth all the time. So that was college, right? So I won that award. And I remember thinking, Okay, well this is what I'm going to do every summer because then I'll get... I don't really have a home to go to, so I can just do this every summer, see the world. This is awesome. And I get in a terrible car accident. And I didn't break anything. But I had a concussion. And I just couldn't move my body the same after that... so I was out that summer. And I just, there were just so many things, like events that happened. And so then it was like the chapter on cheerleading closed, right? So I felt like, okay, dancing, didn't come to fruition. Cheerleading didn't come to fruition. And so here I am near the end of college, and I just... Once I got in that accident, I just didn't really have a next step! So college, I wasn't the person that was in the library every weekend! I had the time, you know?

Did academics come easy for you? Was it? Did you...Were you challenged with the courses? Or was it just like, "Oh, I can I can go through what I need to do! And I'm going to be fine with the with my grades!"

Amanda 31:00  
I mean I was... I was an okay student. I mean, I came from Maryland that had terrific public schools, and so compared to my classmates in Maryland, I never felt like I did that. Well, but when I went to USC, and maybe because I was more focused, I don't know. But I did really well at USC, you know? It was pretty easy for me. High school was not easy, but it's hard for me, Dennis, to look at it objectively, because I was... I don't know if emotionally I was at a different place, too, in high school. But college came pretty easy to me. And so yeah, I mean, I just finished out those last two years, kind of not knowing what was next but feeling like the things that I loved, and that I was passionate about, were kind of just gone.

They're in the past! They're in the rearview mirror now.

Amanda 31:53  
They're in the past! And like what's next, right? So that's when, you know, my friend Erin and dental school and everything else...

Dennis 32:01  
Did Erin? Did she have parents or family that were in dentistry? 


All right. So this is... you guys are just sort of going on as pioneers into this unknown? 


Dennis 32:13  
And so, dentistry would have been... this is like, "Well, I've got to do something. I'm good at sciences. It comes easy to me." And so did you think about medicine at all? I mean, you're going down sort of now into sort of a health care, you know, industry. Did you think about medicine?

Amanda 32:31  
Yeah, I mean, I did, but I didn't... Like I said, I had no role models, really, or anybody that I could identify with it that... where it would speak to me. And so Erin was just like my person, you know? She was that person, and I trusted her. I believed in her, and I just went with it. So...

Dennis 32:54  
A good friend of mine, Steve, we were in... I've known him since I was a kid, and we were at Michigan together, and he was pre-med. But he wasn't like super thrilled about the whole thing. And I'm like, "Steve, you ought to just go check out dental school!" I was... I had been sort of gearing towards dentistry. And I didn't know anything about dentistry, but I just, for some reason, I thought that it would be great. And so Steve then said, "All right, I'll check it out." And next thing you know, Steve has gone to dental school with me, and you know, is super successful, and you know, so it's so funny the path that sort of brings us into this! And it's... unless you have a family member or someone who's really influenced you, these stories of how people got into dentistry I think are just so fascinating! One person! One person who, for whatever reason, you know, I knew I want to be a dentist. Erin must have known she wanted to be a dentist. And then here you are, and then, you know, years later, you're a dentist, go figure! That's crazy. 

Amanda 33:47  

All right. So you're on campus, you're having fun... You are social, you're just making, you know, school is cool, and you're just sort of like, "Hey, this is college life!" And then all sudden reality hits, and you've got to figure out what you want to do when you grow up someday! And then Erin guides you and holds your hand. Does she go to NYU also?

Amanda 34:05  
No. She went to Baltimore, Maryland, for dental school.

Dennis 34:11  
Now, when you when you were applying to dental schools, did you have any rationale on where you were applying? Or did you just sort of spit ball out and say...?

Amanda 34:19  
Actually, I... So growing up in Maryland, I grew up near the DC area. And when we lived in New Jersey for when we did, I always was fascinated with New York City, too. I'm a city girl at heart, and I just loved it. So, NYU was my first choice. I wanted to go to a big city, and coming out of college, I mean, I just felt like okay, if I'm going to live the next four years, somewhere on my own, like no one's helping me... My parents are here and there. So I just envisioned myself being in a city. So New York was my first pick. But again, I had no idea about the difficulty of any dental school getting in. I mean, luckily... I didn't apply to that many. In hindsight, I probably should have, just in case, as a backup, but I applied to like three or four, and NYU was my top choice, and I got in, so I just decided to go!

Dennis 35:16  
So walk me back. So you walk into dental school the first day. Do you remember? Do you remember the feeling?

Yeah. For me, it was nice in the sense of it was a fresh start. I felt like I could kind of rewrite my story in a way, even though it was unknown. I wasn't sure if I would like dentistry, but it was like I said it. The the moment came when we had our first clinic and you walk in, and the first thing you do with your hands is a wax up. And I remember doing that. And I'm like, "I really like this!" You know? And I've always been into the arts. And yes, it was performing arts, but also visual arts. I liked photography in high school as an elective. I did sculpting as an elective. I would draw, I would... You know, so for me, Visual and Performing Arts is huge. So I didn't really realize that dentistry would require that skill set. And so when we sat down and started doing this, I'm like, "This is amazing!" And it was also the time when you realize that the smartest people academically, sometimes really struggle with their hand skills to do...

Dennis 36:34  
It's a great leveling field. It levels things out, right? 

Amanda 36:39  
Dennis 36:39  
Because you get people who are great academic, but then when you have to put the hands on, that can make things different!
Amanda 36:45  
And it's not like they can't train them... those skill sets to be better. But I realized at that point that I had somewhat a natural skill set for it. But you know, being the way I am, I wanted, you know, that's the athlete and me or the dancer, whatever. I wanted to just keep getting better, and do it more and do it more and do it more. And so that's when I just got really into the time aesthetic dentistry wasn't really something I was really aware of...
Write your awesome label here.
Dennis 37:17  
What year did you go to school?

Amanda 37:20  
I was there from 98 to 2002.

Dennis 37:23  
Okay. Can I ask you another question before you go into that? So I didn't ask this. But I was wondering culturally being of an Asian background, Vietnamese background, and you go to South Carolina, which is, you know, the South, right? Culturally was... Did you have issues at all? Did you find any issues going South Carolina back in those days? 

Amanda 37:47  
For sure. 

Dennis 37:48  
Yeah. I'm not surprised. And so... I bring this up... When I was a resident, a GPR resident, one of the guys Pete was an MD resident, and I was the first Jewish guy he had met, and he was, you know, 20, some years old, you know? And he told stories about the old days, you know, and he grew up in Charleston, and, you know, it's just sort of a different experience. So I wonder and so, as I as I think about that... I think about going to NYU, now you're in a very culturally diverse community. And I don't know, but I'm assuming that there was sort of maybe a little bit of coming home because you were now into this culturally diverse community. 

Amanda 38:30  

Dennis 38:30  
Was that part of...? Yeah. I had imagined walking in to the school, you saw people who are more like you, and who... And different races, different ethnicities, right? Instead of sort of a pure white community.

Amanda 38:44  
When I was in Maryland, it was the same thing. I mean, I had friends from all different races, religions, and everything else. And then coming to South Carolina, I mean, you know, I was the person like, "Are you related to so and so?" Because I was the only Asian girl in South Carolina, you know? I mean, it was a real step back for me. And so yes, coming to New York was really nice. Because even more so than being in the DC area, I mean, it was such a melting pot. And I loved it. I mean, I really, really loved it. And it was something that has changed the person that I became. So you know, when I talk about my journey and how dental school was... I'm a different person. It's not that it was because of dental school. It's just the events of my life that led up to dental school and things that happened afterwards, you know? But it was it was wonderful. I enjoyed being in New York for four years. And I met David in college, and he moved up to New York with me during those four years. So we just we loved every minute of just exploring the city and meeting new people, and he's a southern boy. So for him, he was like, "Oh my gosh, this world is so much bigger than I thought!" 

Dennis 40:00  

Amanda 40:01  
Yeah. So, it was great. And you know, at the end of four years, he was the one actually that was like, "I don't want to go back to South Carolina!" He's like, "I want to... I want to live in a big city!" Because he just... he couldn't believe what it was like, you know? But yeah, I mean, South Carolina, for sure, is culturally very different, and still is. It's much better, but I think it's not diverse when you're comparing to cities like New York.

Dennis 40:30  
Yeah. Well, every city has its beauty and has its... what makes it awesome. Some less awesome than others. But certainly the cultural diversity in New York is unlike any place I've ever been in my lifetime. But then, I get to come down to your community, Charleston, over Thanksgiving. So excited, we're going to eat that at Tosk. And there's some other great restaurants we're going to be doing. But every community has its advantages and disadvantages. And I think being able to get exposed to other communities helps you really embrace those and then also embrace what, you know, different communities can provide. So what did David do? So, were you guys married when you started dental school?

Amanda 41:13  
No, we were not married. We got married my last year in dental school, right before my last year. But he was... it was during like the DOTcom, you know, period. So he worked for the startup that was great... until it wasn't. And he worked for Xerox for a while. So, he did like... He did Xerox first, and then he did a DOTcom company. But he's been around enough dentistry talk all his life to probably, you know, fool people into believing that he knows something about dentistry.

Dennis 41:51  
I'm doing the same. So that works out for me. So it's okay! I've always admired and been blown away by people who have relationships in dental school, and how those relationships continue on and are successful, because for me, dental school was incredibly stressful. I got to dental school only through the compassion and love of my classmates who were were incredible in supporting me. And, I mean, we supported each other, but God, they supported me way more than I supported them. And, and I look at these relationships, and we had many people were married. And it's like, how do you? How does your partner withstand? If you had half the stress level that I did, how are they doing that? So would you mind talking about that? What what the relationship was like as you were...? Because I think we have a lot of dental students who listen to these. And I think you could offer some advice or maybe experience of what made it work and what the challenges were.

Amanda 42:47  
Yeah, I mean, I will tell you that my husband is a special man, and he's a huge supporter of everything that I do. You know, when we were in dental... When I was in dental school, I mean, we were dating, but, I don't know. I don't know what the secret formula is. I mean, it was stressful, but I didn't, I didn't feel the same stress that I felt like when I was in high school. For me, it was like these bursts of "Okay, this week, I've got these exams!" So it's like, I know this week, like, I would tell David, like, I've got to, like bury myself at the Starbucks, or stay up late, or do whatever, but it was almost like binge studying, and then you'd have fun for a week. And then it's like binge studying, and then you'd have fun, you know? But it wasn't so stressful... And maybe it was because the group of friends that I had; I had a tight circle of friends at NYU, where we would all study together, and they were also David's friends. So we would come over to our little 250 square foot studio in New York City, you know? We'd order food and all hang out with David and study, and then he'd be like, "Okay, guys, I'm going to bed!" And we'd go to Starbucks, or we would, you know, I mean. And it was just... I had a community, I always had people with me, where I didn't feel like I was doing it by myself, you know?And it made me more enjoyable that way, and more fun, and it makes the learning value better. For sure!

Dennis 44:17  
Yeah. I'd agree! When I was at Michigan, we had a lot of fun. And so when I was stressed, I think we worked hard and we played hard. And I tell the story... Anyone who knows me has heard this story before... I was studying at the Law Library. This is our first year, freshman year, D1. And two, the Law Library of Michigan is very Oxfordian. It looks like a library out of Oxford. It's beautiful and has all the stained glass, and libraries at University of Michigan, people study. And people study on Friday nights and Saturday nights. And so Saturday night at midnight, I'm studying in the back the law library. It's all these sort of long tables, and I was faced towards the back of the library because I didn't want to be distracted. And I'm studying for gross anatomy, and I'm charting out the veins of the hand, I think I was doing, and it's midnight. And literally, I hear people laugh in the law library, and no one ever laughs in law library! I mean, you can hear a pin drop, right? And I don't turn around. But I know my classmates, and I say to myself, this is going to be about me. And so I just start packing up my bags, and four of my classmates come in, and you could never do this today. But they come in with nylons over their faces and hoodies on. And they literally just pick me up on my chair, grabbed my backpack, they hijack me, and they said, "This is the last time you study on a Saturday night in dental school!" And they threw me literally, they literally tossed me into the back of a jeep and drove me to a party. 

Amanda 45:43  
Yep! Those are good friends! 
I had a community. I always had people with me, where I didn't feel like I was doing it by myself, you know? And it made me more enjoyable that way, and more fun, and it makes the learning value better. For sure!
Dr. Amanda Seay
Dennis 45:45  
Those are those are the friends, right? And those are the people that really sort of helped me get through, and I think, for people who are going through dental school, like you said, you have to... You have to surround yourself in a community of people who can support you. Because it's... Otherwise, I think it'd be overwhelming. It's so much to learn. It's, you know... Emotionally, it can be really taxing, right? And you're trying to manage the didactic with the clinical, and all that stuff. It's all new, and especially if you come to a new community... So I'm glad you shared that because I think those are... that's a great story. And I think that's really important for people to hear. That's awesome. I want to talk about dental school a little bit before we move on to some other stuff. So do you... As you're going through dental school, and you're you're liking what you're learning, and you're sort of feeling like, "Hey, I'm in the right place! This is the right place for Amanda Seay." Is that sort of what you're grooving on?

Amanda 46:42  
Yeah, I mean, and I loved the clinics. I mean, absolutely loved it! Now did I know... I really... The term Aesthetic Dentistry; that wasn't familiar to me. I didn't know that there was any of that. And it wasn't until there was talk starting near the end of dental school where Larry Rosenthal was building his aesthetic wing or center at the school. And I'm thinking like, "What does that mean?" Like, is it... we're gonna do a lot of veneers in this clinic, or what? Because Larry would come talk to us, you know, here and there at school, so I knew that he did a lot of cosmetic work for big clients and celebrities, but I couldn't really grasp that you could just get in like a specialty of sorts of cosmetic dentistry.

Dennis 47:33  
Sure, yeah. It was in its infancy!

Amanda 47:36  
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I did really well in dental school. And I'm like, I just was really into doing really pretty dentistry, but didn't have a plan...

Dennis 47:51  
Even your restorative dentistry, you're just doing, you know, Class II composite, you're doing whatever you're doing a denture setup, you're still looking at it, like, "I want this to look awesome! Whatever I'm doing..."

Amanda 48:03  
I got out of Oral Surgery Clinic whenever I could. I knew I did not want to pull teeth. Like that was not for me!

Dennis 48:11  
Same for me.

Amanda 48:12  
I knew I didn't like endodontics. 

Dennis 48:16  
Same with me. 

Amanda 48:17  
I knew I didn't like pediadontics! But I thought, you know, I... Denture setup? I'm like, there's some arts in that; I didn't mind doing that. So I just I kind of narrowed it down. I'm like, "Well, I guess I'm just going to be a GP, you know?" I mean, that's fine.

Dennis 48:36  
Do you remember your first procedure do did did on a human being?

Amanda 48:40  
Oh, yes. Yes. His name was Herbes. It was a foreign name. Sweet, sweet man. I could not understand him. He barely spoke English. And he would come in... Sorry, I have contractors! I had to do a number 18...

Dennis 49:04  
Oh, that's David. There's David in the background. David's doing a cameo.

Amanda 49:12  
Hey, guys, I'm doing a podcast. Sorry! Anyways, just keeping it real. 

Dennis 49:17  
Yeah, exactly! 
Amanda 49:19  
I had to do a build up on a crown on number 18. And it was one of those. He's one of those patients... so sweet. So, he opens his mouth. And it was like, his tongue completely covered the tooth. You know? And you don't... we didn't have dental assistants! You worked by yourself. So the first time working... Like you just don't even know! And I just remember thinking, "Oh my gosh, I can't see!" Like I don't even know how... I got nothing done. I remember I could barely even like put a dent in his amalgam. And thinking like, this is horrible. This is horrible. I can't! I don't know how to do this! And they didn't teach us at the time to put a rubber dam on to prep a tooth, necessarily. Right? For a crown. I mean, if you did a Class II restoration or something, maybe, but you're not doing that to just prep a crown to keep the tongue out of the way, you know? I would do that now! But I remember thinking like, "Oh, shoot, I don't know if I'm going to like this so much!" But that was my first procedure. But then you realize when you have that, and then you have some easier patients after that, that it's not so bad. But yeah, I remember that!

Dennis 50:34  
It's so funny. These experiences when we're in dental school, and then even in practice, right, how they shape you and stuff like that. That's really funny. That's a good first patient to remember! That's a good first patient to have behind you!

Amanda 50:47  
Yes, yes. But such a nice man. And he had so much work to do that I saw him for like months! He would just come in every week, and we would chip away at his work.
Dennis 51:00  
Before we get out of dental school experience, give advice for people who are in dental school right now? What advice do you have for them?

Amanda 51:06  
I would really spend the time to look at the specialties seriously to figure out what you really like, or dislike, because, like I said, I didn't have this real plan of what I wanted to do. It was more like I know what I don't want to do! But really explore it, and find mentors early in dental school. I mean, I didn't... The concept of a mentor for me? That did not even happen until after school, after I paid all this money to go to all this CEE that I realized I could have accelerated my path of learning had I had a mentor right from the get go, but I didn't have that. And I wish I would have really understood that concept, you know? And I don't know, I don't know what that is. I mean, maybe culturally, too. It's like you... There's something there? I don't know. But if I didn't ask for help. I felt like I didn't want to ask for help because it was wrong or inconvenient, but it's not!

Dennis 52:08  
Or showed weakness, right?

Amanda 52:11  
Yeah, it's different, right? So the the concept of asking from somebody that is doing something you want to do, doing it better, doing it well, and asking them if they can coach you, give advice, or if you can shadow them. It's huge!

Dennis 52:27  
Yeah, I agree. I think without mentorship... It's a such a... It can be such a challenging career, but especially when you're starting out. Just getting... Having another voice, getting some guidance, getting some direction. I think it's been invaluable in my career! And I think I've been fortunate to be around some young dentists, and to be able to offer mentorship with that. And we certainly do that with Dental Online Training and stuff too. So yeah, I agree! Mentorship so important in our career and our profession. So yeah, I agree!
Write your awesome label here.
Dennis 52:58  
Well, if you enjoyed our visit with Amanda, you're going to love part two of our conversation about the grace of balancing being a mom and a wife, with being a dentist and running a busy dental practice. Amanda shares so much with us about her journey into dentistry and through dentistry, and the people who have served as mentors to her, and how she's gotten to have the skills and be able to do the demonstrate that she does today. 

Dennis 53:22  
Now don't forget to DOT has so many other great learning opportunities from our wine and unwind. Those are our monthly webinars where we engage real time with our viewers as we bring in leaders from throughout the dental industry. And we have our monthly coffee and donut Study Club mentoring sessions. In these meetings, participants bring in cases that they're trying to get more information on and how to treatment plan. And in our group setting via Zoom, we help each other become better dentists and help provide better dentistry for our patients. We also have our live virtual workshops where we cover everything from treating the worn dentition to preparation design for porcelain veneers, to full bonded veneers. So many different techniques and ideas in dentistry that we're able to explore during these live virtual workshops. Of course we have our blogs, and we have our endless selection of hands-on, pre-recorded technique courses to help you improve the quality of your dentistry and bring better dentistry to your patients. So check us out at And if you enjoyed our Sharecast, please share it with your colleagues. And again, thanks for joining us! As always, I'm yours for better dentistry, Dr. Dennis Hartlieb.

Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

DOT Founder

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