From ac­tor to den­tist

Fe­male Aca­dia Univer­sity stu­dents given some ca­reer wis­dom


What do an au­di­ol­o­gist, a vet, an ur­ban plan­ner and a pa­le­o­bi­ol­o­gist have in com­mon?

They were among the 16 pro­fes­sional women who of­fered men­tor­ing a group of fe­male Aca­dia Univer­sity stu­dents on Oct. 30 ‘speed-meet­ing style’.

The ca­reer-fo­cused Women in Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing (WISE) event pro­vided the stu­dents with an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with fe­male Aca­dia alumni around var­ied ca­reer choices.

Speaker for the evening was Dr. Erin Hen­nessy, a Wolfville den­tist and cur­rent pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. She spoke about her “not-so-text­book jour­ney from ac­tor to den­tist.”

Hen­nessy grew up in Kingston and, as a teen, de­cided, “I was go­ing to study the­atre and that was that.”

At 18, she went off to New York City to study mu­si­cal the­atre and found out about that dog-eat-dog world. Hen­nessy main­tains her be­lief that the­atre has the “trans­for­ma­tive power to al­low peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate with each other,” but she bailed on the­atre school.

Back in Nova Sco­tia, she con­tin­ued per­form­ing ed­u­ca­tional the­atre and do­ing school tours. Hen­nessy stud­ied to­wards a Bach­e­lor of Arts and a Bach­e­lor of Ed­u­ca­tion at Aca­dia and taught el­e­men­tary school for two years, then found her­self spend­ing time in her fa­ther-in-law’s den­tal of­fice.

She quit teach­ing and went back to univer­sity for her sci­ence cred­its. Af­ter a cou­ple of years, Hen­nessy was ac­cepted into den­tal school and she joined the Cana­dian Forces den­tal of­fi­cer train­ing pro­gram to carry out her stud­ies with­out ac­cru­ing a huge debt load.

In ba­sic train­ing, she dis­cov­ered a tal­ent for marks­man­ship.

Af­ter com­plet­ing her den­tal pro­gram, Hen­nessy was posted to CFB Kingston, the Royal Mil­i­tary Col­lege and CFB Hal­i­fax. When her hus­band, Jeff, joined the fac- ulty at Aca­dia, she de­cided to leave the mil­i­tary and they set­tled in Wolfville.

To­day, Hen­nessy em­ploys eight women and is a firm be­liever in the value of all her ed­u­ca­tion.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t draw on my arts, ed­u­ca­tion and sci­ence train­ing, as well as my busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence as a young en­tre­pre­neur,” she said.

“If we only ex­am­ine a prob­lem from one per­spec­tive, we may miss im­por­tant el­e­ments.”


Wolfville den­tist Erin Hen­nessy was guest speaker and men­tored fe­male Aca­dia Univer­sity stu­dents ‘speed meet­ing style’ on Oct. 30.

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