By Dr. Bobby J. Grossi

Every person has their own story about how they got into the field they’re currently in. For some people, they drifted into their jobs without any forethought. For others, they weighed the pros and cons of the careers they were considering and chose the one that was the best fit in terms of education, income, lifestyle, and skills.

Still other people ended up in their profession due to a life-changing event. They were called to their job and are deeply committed to it because it’s so personal. This is how it was for me, and this is the story of how I became a dentist when I originally wanted to be a musician.

How My Grandfather Changed the Course of My Life

When I was a teenager, my grandfather was diagnosed with throat cancer. This news devastated me. I loved my grandfather and I also looked up to him as a mentor. At the same time, I had a scholarship to Central Michigan University just waiting for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do though, as my whole world was in chaos. I ultimately decided that it wasn’t right for me and I remember the moment I told my mother that I would not be going to college right out of high school and instead was going to turn down a full ride.

Unsurprisingly, she wasn’t happy about this news. She was also dealing with the news of my grandfather’s – her father’s – throat cancer diagnosis. She told me she didn’t have money saved for my education if I wanted to go to college in the future. I told her I understood and I’d never ask her for a dime. In the end, she supported my decision because she knew I was committed to it.

My grandfather lived for three years from the date of his diagnosis before he finally passed on February 3, 1994. At that time I was still not in school but pursuing a career in music, which I was happy with. His death set me on a new path when I realized I needed to honor him after all he had done to bless my life.

Choosing a New Path

I had originally wanted to be a medical doctor but my wife Sabrina, a registered nurse, felt that being an MD wasn’t right for me. She knew how devoted I was to my family and while I might like the patient interaction and the work itself, I wouldn’t like being tied to a pager my whole life.

That’s when I knew that dentistry was the right choice for me. It would allow me to remain devoted to my family but still build a thriving career. It would allow me to work closely with patients and give them exceptional care. It would allow me to help people with throat cancer and make a difference in people’s lives by helping prevent the terrible disease that had taken my grandfather’s life.

It took a long time but I did it. Nine years after my grandfather’s death, nine years after making that decision, I graduated from dental school and began my life as a dentist and I haven’t looked back since.

Honoring My Grandfather

I believe that everything worked out as it was supposed to. My decision to turn down Central Michigan was a scary one at the time, but I knew in my heart it was right. I was able to live my dream of being a musician for a few years before turning my attention to dentistry, which was ultimately the right career choice for me. I have my grandfather to thank for it. Because of him, I’m able to honor his memory and help change my patients’ lives every single day.