Marie-Alice Mandich

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 30

Job Title: Orthodontist and clinical instructor, University of Alberta

Why She’s Top 40: She has taken her orthodontist practice beyond simple dentistry to make it a force for social good.

Key To Success: “Where others see limitations, I just don’t see them.”

Marie-Alice Mandich jokes about not sleeping while she was in university and how, ironically, sleep deprivation was all in the name of balancing her scientific and artistic sides.

After graduating with honours with a dental degree from McGill University, Mandich came to University of Alberta to enhance her education with a master’s in orthodontics. While completing more than 60 credits a year – double the average of most programs – she played violin in the university’s orchestra and sang with a choir.

Add to those activities a hip-hop class just for fun and the position of councillor-at-large with the student governing body. Soon, her friends had  warned her that if she didn’t scale back on extracurricular activities, she was going to burn out. “I said, ‘Really? Just you watch me,'” says Mandich.

She adds, “I’m grateful to be young, to still have the energy to balance all of that. I don’t want to look back when I’m 70 and have regrets.”

A few years later, and Mandich is still pushing forward, most recently by starting an educational program for elementary and high-school students to learn about problems of bullying over dental issues. She wants to talk directly to students and help them understand why a classmate might be self-conscious about his or her smile and to treat that student with sympathy, not cruelty.

She says, “It’s huge when you’re young and trying to find self-confidence, and who you are in this world, and then you are constantly being teased because you have crooked teeth or vampire canines.”

Growing up, Mandich says her pediatrician father demonstrated the same morals and core values she applies to her career today. “My dad, one of my most important role models, doesn’t practise in the wealthy parts of Montreal. He practises in the under-served populations. He instilled in me the value of always looking out for others.”

She adds, “Being an orthodontist gives me the opportunity to have a positive influence on someone’s life.”

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