BACK TO HIS ROOTS
Dalton Brooks returns home to practice dentistry alongside father
For Dalton P. Brooks III, commencement means more than beginning a new chapter as a professional.
It signals the strengthening of family and community ties Brooks has nurtured all his life.
When Brooks earns his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree as part of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2021, he will return to his hometown of Lumberton to practice dentistry alongside his father at Dr. Dalton P. Brooks Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.
“I’ve always been around dentistry, and for the longest time knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t until my early college days that I really formed a passion for dentistry. Witnessing the impact my dad had on not only his patients’ smiles, but their lives, really solidified dentistry for me.”
The exploration of the possibilities led him to ECU, and the decision was an easy one for Brooks.
Name: Dalton Brooks
College: ECU School of Dental Medicine
Major: DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine)
Classification/Year: Fourth-year dental student
Hobbies/interests: Playing golf, watching movies, spending time with my wife and our dog Arya, traveling
Clubs and Organizations: Society of American Indian Dentists, Student National Dental Association
Favorite hangout: My house
Favorite place on campus: D4 SLC Clinic
Favorite place to eat: Marabella Old World Pizza
Favorite class: Anatomy
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Douglas Kellogg
Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”
Favorite band/musician: Luke Combs
Favorite movie: “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Dream job: Dentist
Role model: My dad and grandfather
Your words to live by: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” — Teddy Roosevelt
What advice do you have for other students? Work hard, do your best, celebrate the small victories and don’t let the small setbacks stop you.
“ECU has a mission that aligns with what I value,” he said. “It has some of the newest technology and newest facilities, and you get a lot of exposure to advanced cases and procedures. I chose ECU because they pride themselves on providing health care to underserved communities.”
As other new dentists will be starting practice or pursuing residency training, Brooks also has an entire community at the heart of his decisions for plans after graduation. He is anxious — but excited — to begin his career and watch his goals come to fruition. He is also ready to be a role model for others who dream big.
“I hope that I can be an inspiration to other Lumbee Native Americans that they can pursue anything they put their mind to. I hope they see my story and know that no matter where you start, or how the journey goes, to not stop pursuing your dream until you reach it,” he said.
Returning to his home community also means sharing his success with those who helped shape his path.
“I can start giving back to the community that has given me so much,” Brooks said. “There are countless people that have touched and shaped my life tremendously. By returning to my community, I can give back through dentistry and show everyone what they have invested in.”
By choosing his next steps, he also is an example of the School of Dental Medicine’s mission come to life. The school recruits and trains North Carolinians who are service-driven and likely to remain in the state to practice.
“Their mission is something I pride myself on and makes me proud to be graduating from ECU. Growing up, I saw the need for health care in my community and now I have the chance to give back.”
Working alongside his father is a lifelong dream that will soon transform to reality.
Brooks reminisces on the lessons his father has taught him — to prepare not only for practicing dentistry, but for leading a meaningful life.
“One of the things that always sticks out in my mind is how he has taught me to always put God first in all that I do and the rest will fall into place,” Brooks said. “Another huge help comes from his encouragement and wisdom he has. He is always there to discuss difficult cases and scenarios with. He always has a different view that gives me insight and helps me think critically. Being able to discuss our passion together just makes me more excited for the future.”
Practicing dentistry with his father and becoming an active member of his home community will be a crossroads for Brooks to join the memories and lessons of childhood with the training and rigor of a service-oriented profession.
He will continue to build bonds among family — and now between patient and provider.
“Growing up, I was always around dentistry with my dad being a dentist and my mom being a dental hygienist,” Brooks said. “The thing that always stuck out the most to me was the relationships that they were able to build with their patients and their ability to touch their patients’ lives. Becoming a dentist, I wanted the ability to help patients while also building life-long relationships.”