In touch with alumni: Q&A with Dr. Celeste Latham

November 20th, 2014

This Dentistry Insider quick-read offers a glimpse into the lives of Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry alums, each with a different approach to the dental profession.

06alumni-latham-1In this inaugural edition, meet Dr. Celeste Latham ’97, who tackles family life, career and leadership with focus that is far from single-minded. By sharing responsibilities with family and colleagues, this Alumni Association president and mother of two young children is able to achieve the balance she desires. Here’s more on her life outlook and strategies.

Dentistry as I see it: I share a practice in Dallas’ Park Cities with another female dentist, Dr. Chi Trieu ’99, and we each spend two days per week in the office. I always knew I didn’t want to work full time when I had kids. I think two days in my office is perfect. I try to do excellent dental work and be an excellent mom. It frees me up to be on the board at my kids’ PTA and be on the board at the dental school. If it weren’t for my business partner and our compromises together this wouldn’t work. We expect the person in the office to be the go-to person that day, and the staff knows that. We split responsibilities right down the middle and try to be as fair as possible between holidays and vacations.

On achieving life balance: When I’m doing one thing, whether it’s volunteering or working at the office, I try to focus on that 100 percent. I’ve gotten to be the kind of person who doesn’t let things cause me as much anxiety anymore. I exercise, attempt to keep myself sane most of the time, and it seems to work out well. I try to keep my professional life separate from my personal life and couldn’t do everything without the support of my husband, Mark. Some of my kids’ friends’ parents don’t even know I’m a dentist. I like that separation; it helps me achieve balance.

When I knew this career was for me: In fifth grade a classmate named Tommy was playing with marbles on the playground and broke my front teeth with one of them. He actually injured three teeth including one that was broken in half diagonally. It was very traumatic. In fifth grade those are your new teeth. My dentist, Dr. Milton in El Paso, Texas, fixed everything. Ever since then I’ve had issues with my teeth that have forced me to deal with dentists for different problems. Dr. Milton was the one who told me what college I should go to. I was very focused and told everyone I wanted to be a dentist. They thought I was crazy.

What I most appreciate about TAMBCD: I really appreciate my professors. I became so close to my instructors, and even now a lot of them still teach. When I hear of them retiring or passing away, I feel like I have to come back. They’re so special even though it was just four years. In third year my group leader was Dr. Hirsh, and my senior year it was Dr. McNew. To this day I can’t call her Danette; I know that has something to do with the respect you develop for your professors during those formative years. I appreciate everything I got from the dental school.

— Carolyn Cox