Mohammed Akl receives President's Student Leadership Service Award
Mohammed Akl, DDS, MS ’22, received the 2022 University of Minnesota President’s Student Leadership and Service Award.
Each year, the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award (PSLSA) recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding students and leaders at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. It is a collaboration between the Office of the President, Office for Student Affairs, University of Minnesota Alumni Association and Student Unions and Activities.
Akl was born in a small town in Lebanon and grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He pursued his DDS at the University of Sharjah, where a visit from then-Dean Leon Assael, DMD, and another faculty member taught Akl about “the vision, quality of education and commitment to training the best of the best in all areas of dentistry.” Akl appreciated the program structure and the wide variety of patient cases available to residents.
Akl came to the School of Dentistry as a graduate resident in prosthodontics. He sees prosthodontics as an extension of his love for problem-solving and design. “Most of the patients that present for complex prosthodontic care require very careful analysis, systematic treatment planning and thinking outside the box,” he explained. “The same skills that help me as an artist make me an excellent prosthodontist.”
But the best part about working in prosthodontics, for Akl, is its potential to be “completely life changing.”
“Not only do you have an impact on physical appearance, speech and chewing function, but you also directly impact mental health,” he said. “Many patients present to clinic with low self esteem and will refuse to smile. Others are unable to speak clearly. Finishing a case and watching the patient smile into the mirror with genuine happiness is priceless. Being able to directly impact so many different aspects with your arsenal of restorative dentistry skillsets makes prosthodontics a unique specialty.”
Pursuing his residency in graduate prosthodontics has been a challenging and humbling experience. “After you start treating complex cases, you realize how much you don’t know,” he said. He appreciates the challenge of treatment planning and the ways he continues to learn.
Now in his third and final year of residency Akl serves as Chief Resident, acting as a leader among prosthodontic residents. “It was always important to me to put graduate prosthodontics on the map,” he explained of the work he does as Chief Resident, including enhancing digital dentistry and hosting workshops and lectures throughout the School of Dentistry. He has also provided several lectures on digital impressions at Prosthodontics Grand Rounds and at other dental institutions throughout the country.
“This not only helped highlight the importance of utilizing digital technology or contemporary care, but was in line with the vision to put the graduate prosthodontics program at the School of Dentistry on the map as an elite program and institution,” he said. “This is only the start, and I am certain the program will continue to evolve and grow.”
As he prepares to hand over the torch of Chief Resident and reflects on his time spent leading at the School of Dentistry, Akl is grateful for the experiences he’s had and is proud to be recognized as a student leader.
“I’m truly humbled to have received this award, and it means a lot to me that the work I did was recognized by President Gabel and her team,” he said. “I’m proud to represent the School of Dentistry in receiving this award.”