Biomedicine, dentistry and audiology alum Jessalynn Sukamto is a multihyphenate with many strings to her bow.
Jessalynn enjoyed her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne so much she returned to do postgrad studies – twice. Having worked in dentistry and audiology, she’s now leaning into her entrepreneurial spirit with a start-up focusing on professional development for health professionals.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Melbourne?
I had always been interested in the life sciences, and initially thought I wanted to pursue a career in research.
When I graduated from high school in Perth, I decided to move to Melbourne, as the University of Melbourne is renowned for having a strong research faculty. I wanted to really dive deep into the world of science and learn from academics who are at the forefront in their field. I was not disappointed and truly loved my experience as an undergraduate student. So much so that I went back to the University of Melbourne to do postgrad twice!
What are your strongest memories from the University of Melbourne?
It was amazing learning from professors, tutors, and academics who were very passionate about what they were doing – it made me believe that I too could find that for myself someday.
I have fond memories of lunch times on the South Lawn, doing fun experiments in our labs, getting to cross paths with amazing patients and having the privilege to treat them, as well as all the fun activities and events I participated in as part of my university life.
Tell us more about how your studies helped you prepare for your current role.
The Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Melbourne helped prepare me for my career as a dental surgeon. However, the breadth of subjects I took during my undergraduate years and my recent Master of Clinical Audiology has helped me expand my horizons and look beyond dentistry for a fulfilling career.
Being exposed to the different areas of study and meeting people from different backgrounds allowed me to think outside the box and sparked my entrepreneurial curiosity.
My most recent role is in a start-up company that is focused on delivering immersive professional development courses for healthcare professionals. This role combines many of my interests together and allows me to expand my skillsets outside a clinical setting.
What are some career highlights so far?
Having pursued and completed more than one degree, I count myself lucky to have had quite a diverse experience in my career so far.
When going through my first degree, I was fortunate enough to be involved in exciting research opportunities at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. This opportunity allowed me to travel and present my research topic at conferences, which was a big learning experience for me.
In my career as a practising dentist, I enjoy learning from the best in the industry as well as being involved in dental volunteer trips to help those without access to healthcare. Being involved in organising dental conferences and dental volunteer trips allowed me to travel to many different parts of the world and create amazing memories. My recent trips to Mexico and Indonesia are definitely up there in my list of highlights.
Last year, I got to dip my toes back into research by working with the Bionics Institute in the field of cochlear implants. I have always had great respect for scientific research and hope to be able to do more of it in the future or at least be involved with research in some capacity.
Currently, I am working on several start-ups and during my spare time, I am collaborating with organisations to increase awareness and access to care in the fields of dentistry and audiology in remote locations within the South-East Asia region.
What drives you to do your best at work?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been in a healthy competition with myself. I am always challenging myself and stretching my own limits to see how far I can go. This is what drives me to always do my best at work (no matter what field I’m in) and motivates me to constantly find ways to improve. I hope I never lose my sense of curiosity and will continue to enjoy learning new things.
What advice do you have for current students?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or try new things. Never lose your sense of curiosity – you’ll never know where it will lead you!
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to not know anything. It just means you have a great, big adventure ahead of you. If you’re not sure what your passion is yet, don’t sweat it; it will find you at the right time.