The precious moments
Kendall Taney Cummings ’97, DVM ’02 remembers the spiral notebook with handwritten personal messages on Newman Library’s information desk - the students’ version of Snapchat before the turn of the century.
“We would write messages related to work, inspirational quotes, doodles, and good day wishes in this notebook for the next shift of students,” said Cummings. “I made good friends in the library as a student employee. This is one of the groups of people that stick out in my mind when I think of my college experience. We didn’t always see each other outside of work, but you had that library bond.”
From meeting her future husband Nathan Cummings ’98, MS ’02, Ph.D. ’04, walking across the Drillfield at 8 a.m. in the dead of winter, to conducting undergraduate research on lizards, each moment is precious to Kendall Taney Cummings. Her time at Virginia Tech helped her grow, pushed her to get involved, and led to her success.
“When I was 18, I was quiet and reserved. I was a little bit intimidated by college professors. But, I needed research experience and I couldn’t hide in the corner,” added Cummings. “I needed to get involved and meet people who could help me get to the next level.”
Now, Cummings is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College and pursuing a fellowship in veterinary oral and maxillofacial surgery. She has been a veterinarian at the Center for Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery in Gaithersburg, Maryland, since its opening in 2006, and she became a partner in 2008.
“When I graduated with my DVM, I never thought I’d be a veterinary dentist, I thought I’d be a general practitioner,” said Cummings. “But one of my Virginia Tech professors offered me a dentistry residency, and it’s been a very satisfying career.”
Cummings said she will never forget her academic mentors Tom Jenssen, associate professor emeritus of biological sciences, and James Wightman, professor emeritus of chemistry. “I had really good professors that I’ll never forget, because they cared," said Cummings. "They are amazing people who pushed me along the way to how successful I am today.”
Because of those precious moments and mentors, Cummings returns to campus yearly to give dentistry lectures to veterinary students. “I’m very proud they asked me to do that. It’s a big honor and I really enjoy it. It’s neat to look back at where I used to sit and remember being a student. Hopefully I can inspire them, like my professors inspired me.”
Cummings also enjoys coming to visit Blacksburg for football games and alumni events. She looks forward to adding more precious Virginia Tech moments to her Hokie experiences.
“I love Virginia Tech all the way to my core. When I’m in the area, my heart is happy. I felt like that as a student,” added Cummings. “I hope to move back to Blacksburg someday and retire there. I can’t sufficiently express how much I love it there."