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5 Under 40:
Samer M. Othman

Samer M. Othman, 39
Advanced Dental Arts Owner and dentist; healthcare and dental care advocate; nonprofit leader

Tell us about your job and why you chose your career field.
I am a general dentist and practice owner. My father is a physician, so I grew up loving medicine and the sciences; however, I did not love the lifestyle. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to pursue a different career path and chose my former pediatric dentist, Dr. Marilyn Murphy, to shadow for Stratford’s Senior Projects mentoring program. I ended up falling in love with the profession and spent my undergraduate and post-graduate career pursuing it.  

Tell us about your activities in the community, especially what you’re most excited about.
I have served in all capacities at the Macon Volunteer Clinic since 2008. I began working there as a graduate student, volunteered there every summer through dental school, and immediately started volunteering as a dentist after dental school. I am the immediate past board chairman and serving my last year as a board member before I must roll off.
I joined as a board member of United in Pink this year. It serves Middle Georgia’s breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families, providing educational and support materials, counseling, and financial assistance to those who qualify. I am very proud to be a part of United in Pink and hope to help it to continue to grow.   

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My work at the Macon Volunteer Clinic. I have spent the last 15 years volunteering there and it has, and always will be, my passion project. It is an amazing mission that provides healthcare to those that work and who are without health insurance. It is such an important disparity. The clinic makes a large impact on the entirety of our community by keeping people healthy that would not have the means to do so otherwise.   

As you look to the future, what are your professional and personal goals?
My professional goal is to continue to help as many Middle Georgians as I can to receive affordable, quality dental care. Dentists can make a big impact through volunteer clinic work. I was able to start restorative services at the clinic, which was only doing extractions before. For many, dental care is viewed as a luxury. I hope that through service and volunteerism, I can help the people in our community realize that it is a necessity for all and can be affordable.  

Right now, what is the best thing going on in Macon?
The people. Macon is a vibrant, diverse community that is full of superstars. I have had the privilege to witness so much good from people from all walks of life. I am in awe at the amount of amazing people quietly doing amazing things in Macon.   

How do you reach out to others to encourage more good doing?
A simple ask is all that is needed. Sometimes that ask will need to be bolstered by encouragement, however simply showing someone that you believe in them or their idea enough to ask them to execute it is all that the need to do more and contribute to the community.  

What are three qualities that got you where you are today?
Empathy, always remembering who helped me get to where I am, and always trying to reach back and pull those up around me. No one can achieve anything without the direct or indirect help of others. It’s important to always stay grounded and realize this fact in order to continue to achieve and overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.  

What needs to change to encourage continued progress in our city?
I would like to see the overall negativity surrounding our community change. I feel as though we lose too much talent and amazing potential ideas to the popularity of voicing negativity over what could be positive change for Macon. We absolutely have our problems; however, my challenge to all the naysayers is simply this: Do something about it. Be the change you want to see. Our community is worth it.  

How do you think Macon is aligning to become a more inclusive place in the post-COVID era? How has that shaped your values and actions?
The COVID lockdown, specifically, seems to have allowed community leaders to do their best thinking as so many amazing projects and initiatives have blossomed in the past couple of years. From Macon Black Tech’s Maconthon to the Mayor’s Sneaker Ball, the community has stepped up in a big way to further Macon’s inclusivity and progress. That push has also made me consider several ideas for nonprofits to act as a back stop for those struggling in Middle Georgia and bring about a positive change that will hopefully reverberate through the entirety of our community.  

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