Current Student Spotlight: Benjamin Pass, Science and Dental Education, M.A. 2013By mst • Jul 31st, 2012 • Category: Science Education
Benjamin Pass, is a current Science Education student in the Science and Dental Medicine Education M.A. program. Benjamin was born in Ohio; he has lived in several places, mostly Michigan, but has also lived in Florida and Colorado.
He attended college in Colorado at the United States Air Force Academy and majored in biochemistry. Benjamin was an admissions advisor, helping to recruit diverse students, by sharing his experiences at the Academy while traveling around the United States.
Soon after completing his work at the Academy Benjamin enrolled in the dual degree Science and Dental Education Masters of Arts program at Teachers College and Columbia University, College of Dental Medicine.
Benjamin has reported a positive TC experiences having the opportunity to engage in discussion and take courses with educators. “Being a student all of my life and being able to have these interactions, has definitely help my development process; seeking to be an educator one day.” The educators come from all walks of life and originate from different countries around the world this influence continues to enrich Benjamin’s educational experience at TC.
Teachers College offers many educational resources; discussion panels, speakers, symposiums, lectures, and networking events. “I know the resources are vast here at TC.”
He decided to study education because of his own personal obstacles with educational delivery. Benjamin comes from a family of educators; both of his grandmothers and sister are educators. His childhood experience sparked his interest in education at a young age when he decided to become an educator as an adult.
Benjamin’s educational background has lead to his strong interest in science and dental education. He chose to attend Teachers College to learn diverse methods of pedagogy in order to improve the educational experience of students he could identify with.
His academic interests are in special needs dental patients. “It’s an area that is neglected in dental education, in dentistry as a whole, and in private practice.” He seeks to locate what information currently exists concerning dental education and special needs and then integrate the two into a single dental program.
Benjamin’s most recent research project is to help identify dental students’ intentions when treating patients with special needs. The goal is to analyze current dental students behavior through the theory of planned behavior, to be able to detect peoples initiatives for making decisions. “However, we predicted that most people would not go into special needs education after a literature review, due to the constraints of Medicaid and the issue of reimbursement.” Therefore, he shifted his focus to a more applicable project; designing a curriculum with influences of all the courses he has taken at Teachers College and integrated them into a proposed dental program. It will be a 10-12 point program that he intends to pitch to the Columbia Dental School to be implemented someday.
Dr. Langer’s course How Adults Learn at Teachers College, in particular has, impacted Benjamin’s perception of the world; the course forced him to be critical of himself and how he processes information.
The dual degree program is unique since the students receive an education from two very different schools. “Very progressive thinking at Teachers College more discussion based, more original thinking towards generating new information, and students are able to hear the beliefs and ideals about education from their peers. Versus a very knowledge based education at the Columbia University Dental School.” The diversity in educational delivery of the two schools provides Benjamin with the opportunity to build his knowledge and integrate the best of both in his work and enrich his educational development.
Upon completion of his degree Benjamin has a service obligation to the military for eight years. He plans to specialized in general dentistry and then use this as a route to enter education. To become an educator in the Air Force requires a specialization, Benjamin plans to become a resident instructor with specialization in the United States Air Force.
In addition to his academic life Benjamin loves photography, where he was the president of the photography club at Columbia University. He even helped return the photography club to Columbia Dental School. His group was integral in the renovation of the dark room on the dental and medical campus, the facility and it is now full functioning.
He is on the executive board of the Student National Dental Association, which targets the recruitment and retention of minorities in dental school. The association also promotes oral health in racial and ethnic minority communities. He is a member of the American Dental Education Association, which affords Benjamin the opportunity to network and discuss with dental educators at conferences and other events.
Benjamin finds time to enjoy cooking and fine dining. His favorite restaurant is Daniel located on the East Side of New York City. He also finds pleasure in traveling, working out, and engaging in outdoor activities.
Dental education is fascinating to Benjamin; he loves to help others and give back to his community.
By Deiana Jackson, Graduate Student, Mathematics Education Ed.D.