Meet Cody Henriksen '07
Dentist, Dental Comfort Center, Sioux Falls
— biology and philosophy majors
Q. How did you choose Augustana?
A. I chose Augustana for multiple reasons – I knew I wanted to be a student athlete and I wanted to excel on both ends, and I didn’t want one to interfere with the other. After visiting with the college administration, the instructors, and the coaches I would be involved with, I knew it was a perfect fit for me.
Life at Augie
Q. Favorite class and why?
A. I have many classes I enjoyed, but I would put ceramics very close to the top. I didn’t have much of an art background, but knowing at that time that I wanted to work with my hands in the future, it was a great class that utilized hand skills and gave me a greater appreciation of art in general. Plus, I made some cool pieces that I still have decorating my house!
Q. Favorite professor and why?
A. Tough to answer just because I had some great science professors that I worked on some research projects with, but I would say Dr. David O’Hara, one of my philosophy instructors. I think what I appreciated so much about him is just his overall grasp of knowledge. Of course he was brilliant in his philosophy courses, but he also had a deep understanding of the sciences and other liberal arts classes. Plus, it wasn’t just learning philosophy; it was applying what we learned to succeed in the world, no matter what your career path may be. There are many who would think a major in philosophy wouldn’t be useful, that is an ignorant thought.
Q. Best Augie memory?
A. Again many memories stand out from my years from Augie, but it just wouldn’t be right for me to not have that be the five years I had on the Augustana Wrestling team. From when I started to when I left, Augie wrestling really turned from a team with a few good individuals to a national powerhouse. I credit that success to great coaching and a great group of teammates that understood what it takes to be successful. In 2004, our team placed 2nd in the nation, which wasn’t our goal, but was quite an accomplishment. I am still great friends with all the coaches and my teammates from that time.
Q. Tell us about your journey after graduating from Augustana – first job, grad school, travel, etc.?
A. After graduating from Augustana, I entered dental school at the University of Minnesota. This is a four year program that equips you with the skills necessary to become a successful dentist. It was a rigorous, but great four years in a place that I enjoyed being, but was just too big of a city to call home.
Q. Tell us about your career – what’s an average day like?
A. If I could have written a blue print of my career expectation many years ago, I would not have shot high enough. I love what I do. I get to meet and interact with people with every kind of background. I have a great staff that I work with, but it is the patients that I see on a daily basis that make going to work every day fun. Each day is unique to any other day, but the majority of it filled interacting with patients, doing exams, and treating disease in the oral cavity.
Q. Greatest challenges and best rewards of your current role?
A. The greatest challenge I have faced is just addressing the fear that people have coming to the dentist. I know it is not on the top of everyone’s list for being their favorite place to go, and it can be an intimidating experience. This is an experience that I faced when I was younger after breaking my front teeth in an accident. After getting my teeth fixed, this incident is actually what made me want to become a dentist. We do our best to make the experience as pleasant as we can in a relaxed, comfortable environment. The rewards of being a dentist are not only getting to meet many people, but helping them achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Whether it is general cleaning, enhancing a smile, or treating the pain of an abscessed tooth, people are very appreciative of what can be done.
Q. Greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
A. I would say my greatest professional accomplishment this far is partnering into Dental Comfort Center and helping in the transition of moving to a new facility at a new location. This has allowed us to expand the treatment options of what can be done, and also helped in terms of getting a patient in sooner if something unexpected comes up.
Q. What’s next for you professionally?
A. I am excited about the future. Like everything, dentistry is a constantly evolving field. Just as I used to consider myself a student of the sport of wrestling, I take the same approach to dentistry. If you aren’t committed to lifelong learning, you are not staying up to date with the times. There are always better and more efficient ways to do things, and I am excited about upcoming continuing dental education so I can better my career and ultimately give my patients a better experience.
Q. If you could offer a prospective or existing Augie student some advice, what would you say?
A. To prospective students and existing students at Augie, I would say take advantage of every opportunity Augie has to offer. Of course the coursework is important, but if you use your time wisely, there are many other things available that you can be involved in while at Augustana.
Q. Tell us about your family.
A. I am fortunate to be married to my best friend Lexi. We have a dog (Tikka) who doesn’t want to leave your side and a crazy cat (Bonz) who thinks the world revolves around him. And coming soon, we are anxiously awaiting the birth of our daughter!
Q. What’s given you the greatest personal satisfaction since graduating from Augie? And why?
A. The greatest personal satisfaction I have from Augie is the relationships I have formed. Augie is a close knit family – people from Augie really care about each other, and it is a great place to develop lifelong friends.
Q. A foundation for life at Augustana begins with our five core values – Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. How did your time at Augustana help to ensure those values remain central in your life?
A. The five core values at Augie are a huge reason why it is such an amazing college. I have always known the importance of each of these values by themselves, but it was my time at Augustana where I learned how they relate to each other and how each value is connected to one another. I’ve learned that if any of these are missing, it really takes away from the others. It is a scenario where the sum of its parts has more worth than adding each individual piece. The same can be said of my experience at Augie – it wasn’t just the classes, or athletics, or anything I was involved in at Augie, it was everything put together that makes this place special.