Career Research Project

Melissa Dzekunskas, Orthodontist

Professional Requirements

  • Examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusion and oral cavity anomalies.
  • Design and fabricate appliances to realign teeth and jaws to produce and maintain normal function and to improve appearance.
  • Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Teaching others how to do something.
  • Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Education Requirements

  • 4 years of high school
  • 4 years of college
  • 4 years of dental school
  • 2-3 years of orthodontic specialty school

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

UIC has 15 colleges and offers bachelor's degrees in 70 fields, as well as a wide range of graduate and professional programs. With a culturally diverse and academically talented student body of approximately 25,000, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area and ranks among the top 50 out of more than 650 national universities in federal research funding. Students can choose from more than 150 student organizations and participate in student government. Although a majority of the students live off campus, more than 3,000 students live in University residence halls on the east, west, and south campus areas. Over 6,000 students live within our surrounding community. Special interest housing is available for students who wish to live in learning communities such as the Honors College, Women in Science and Engineering, etc.

Never Say Never

Many people have said this quote to me before, but the most influential person (to me) to have said this was Justin Bieber. He was only a kid from a small town in Canada, singing and playing for other people, posting his recordings to YouTube solely  because he wanted out of town family to be able to see his performances. Now, he is one of the biggest stars on the planet. The first time that I really appreciated and recognized this quote was at the end of freshman year, finding out that I had made honors band. I had no faith in making honors band. But hey, never say never, right? This quote has also helped me become more confident and social. I started getting more involved in school and with my extracurricular activities. I've made new friends that I'd never expect to become friends with. These words mean multiple things to me. Be confident and be proud of who you are. Sometimes, the expected outcome isn't always what ends up to be the outcome.

Role Model

My role model is my favorite YouTuber, Andrew Lowe. Andrew is a YouTuber who vlogs every so often about random things. He'll do random cooking vlogs or advice vlogs, but he is always funny and interesting. My friend Hannah is the one who introduced me to Andrew's videos, and I instantly fell in love with them. He is so weird and awkward and funny and he seems like he genuinely enjoys what he is doing. He is my role model because he has taught me how to be myself and not try and change that for anyone.


When did you first decide to become an orthodontist? Why?

When I was a sophomore in dental school, we had an orthodontic lab and I enjoyed the challenge of bending the wires. In addition, I began to realize how orthodontics can improve a person’s self esteem by improving their appearance. It can make a difference in the job offers they receive, and even their selection of a spouse.

What do you like most about being an orthodontist?

As an orthodontist, I most enjoy dealing with people and the many variations in orthodontic cases. Some cases involve jaw surgery while others require functional appliances (growth appliances). In addition, I enjoy seeing the “big happy smile” at the end of treatment.

Where do you see orthodontics in 10 years?

Orthodontists will continue to improve orthodontic treatment by utilizing computers for treatment planning and even wire bending. Impressions will be a thing of the past, since full-mouth scanning will be the option of choice. In addition, orthodontic wires will continue to improve, and this will lengthen the time between appointments

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