Brownstown brothers proud of each other’s collegiate honors

At the end of his eight-year college career, Reed McKinney walked away a big winner.

During the 28th Annual Indiana University School of Dentistry Research Day, he received the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence, Cyril S. Carr Research Scholarship, Research Honors Program Certificate of Achievement and King Saud University Travel Award for Excellence in Preventive Oral Health Care.

At the end of his four years at Franklin College, John McKinney was recognized as a top 10 senior for his outstanding contributions and accomplishments.

The Brownstown brothers are proud of each other for the honors they received.

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“It has been awesome growing up with an equally driven younger brother,” said Reed, a 2012 graduate of Seymour High School. “We’re four years apart, so we have basically shared mirrored milestones (my senior year of college was his senior year of high school, etc.). To see him succeed has been one of the coolest experiences for me because I know how driven he is to accomplish his goals.”

John, 22, a 2016 Brownstown Central High School graduate, said his brother is one of the smartest guys he knows.

“He has always been a great role model, and he often pushes me to be my best,” John said. “His accomplishments are incredible and on another level. I think it is great for us both to earn some recognition, but it is about the next goal ahead, which for me is graduate school.”

Reed McKinney

Reed said he was always interested in health care from a young age, but he didn’t know which facet of medicine interested him the most.

At the University of Indianapolis, he made his career decision.

“Through undergrad, I explored a few different health care options but eventually just grew to love the patient-based interactions as well as the hands-on approach to dentistry,” he said. “I did an externship at Rutgers School of Dentistry between my freshman and sophomore year at UIndy to get more exposure to what dentistry actually was and fell in love with it.”

After earning a Bachelor of Science in biology magna cum laude in 2016, he attended Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis.

All four years, he was the fundraising co-chairman for his class and was involved in the Student Research Group, serving as president this past year and receiving the Student Research Group Fellowship each year.

He also received the American Association of Dental Research Fellowship at the AADR meeting in Vancouver in 2019 and participated in the American Dental Education Association’s Academic Dental Career Fellowship Program the past three years. The program is for students interested in dental academia to engage with faculty and complete research projects.

Reed also served on the school’s ADEA student curriculum and assessment committee as a student representative all four years and was the chairman for a year, during which the chapter won the ADEA Chapter Award for Innovation due to efforts made by him and the ADEA chairman.

He also went on service learning trips to Eldoret, Kenya, and Vitoria, Brazil, to provide dental care and was a lab instructor for the D2 fixed prosthodontics course and D3 endodontics course.

Reed presented his research and work at several national and international ADEA and research conferences every year of dental school and was awarded the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry Award and Pierre Fauchard Academy Award.

The recent Research Day was conducted online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reed was nominated for the Dean’s Award and Carr scholarship, the latter being the most prestigious research award offered to dental student researchers.

Part of participating in the school’s Research Honors Program is participating in the Student Research Group. The program identifies students who are more involved in research than the traditional program and have some different requirements for completion, Reed said.

That includes submitting an application for the Student Research Group Fellowship program each year of dental school. The program provides funding for students’ work to the laboratory they work in as well as a travel stipend. To be considered for honors, they also have to present at an international meeting and apply for specific fellowships.

“I was fortunate enough to be funded all four years of school, present every year and receive several international research fellowships throughout my time at IU, all qualifying me for research honors,” Reed said.

His other award was a result of a presentation on Effects of N-Demethylation Nicotine Metabolites on Oral Streptococci Biofilm Formation. The presentation was done online via Zoom.

“Each Research Day, a few days before the event, students who participate in the SRG Fellowship and other interested students present their work and compete for awards,” Reed said. “The day of the event is an open poster-viewing session, which was moved online this year, as well. We gave our presentations the week prior to the awards ceremony.”

Reed said he has been engaged with research at the Indiana University School of Dentistry since his freshman year of undergrad at UIndy and has received awards at Research Day almost every year.

“To receive four large awards at the last one of my research career at IU was great,” he said. “It was pretty humbling. I knew about receiving one of them but had no idea about the other three.”

The COVID-19 pandemic made for a unique end to Reed’s college career.

He came home from Indianapolis around mid-March to do all of his eLearning, and the school mailed caps, tassels and regalia for graduation, which was streamed Friday on Facebook. He received his doctorate of dental surgery.

“I think one of the most important pieces for success in college is to maintain balance,” Reed said. “I remember my freshman year of college at UIndy feeling completely overwhelmed. At that point, I knew I needed to take a step back, remember my goals and why I was doing this and refocus. That same mentality got me through my dental school career.”

Now, he is part of the Health Professionals Scholarship Program through the U.S. Army and will provide four years of dental education.

“After graduating, I’ll be promoted to the rank of captain and will complete the basic officer leadership course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for a few weeks,” he said. “I’ll then move to Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, for an additional one-year advanced education in general dentistry residency at the hospital there before completing my four years of service as an Army dentist.”

John McKinney

At Franklin College, John majored in exercise science and minored in biology.

He was a four-year member of the football team, serving as captain his senior year and earning the end-of-season honors of Defensive Back of the Year, Craig Lawson Scholar-Athlete Award and Robert A. Johnson Leadership Scholarship Award.

He also was a charter member and treasurer of the Exercise Science Student Organization; a member of the Chi Beta Phi honor society for excellence in sciences for two years and Chi Alpha Sigma student-athlete honor society for two years; a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society for excellence in mathematics for two years; and a member of the Franklin College Alpha Society.

He also was a supplemental instructor or teaching aide for organic chemistry courses for one year and tutored in anatomy and physiology for two years.

To be a top 10 senior, students must be nominated by a member of the faculty or staff, have at least a 3.0 grade-point average, embody the values of Franklin College and provide leadership inside and outside the classroom.

The list of nominations was narrowed from 50 to 21, and then the senior class selected the top 10. They were announced during a virtual spring senior and faculty awards program.

Including graduate and undergraduate students, there are 185 in the class.

“I considered it an honor,” John said. “I always knew of it each spring they get announced, but I never thought it was something that I would achieve. I didn’t work toward that goal specifically, just to be the best student I could be. To be one of the 10 members of a representation of our class as a whole is a big honor. I am very grateful for the award.”

Through high school and college, John said academics were always important.

He was a member of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference academic all-conference team and in 2018 won the Doreen W. St. Clair Endowed Wellness Scholarship.

“It was always stressed to me to work hard in all aspects of life by the coaches I had growing up and my parents,” he said. “I always told myself, ‘I can’t go do this before I finish this paper’ or ‘Focus on this assignment or lab, then I’ll have some time to relax.'”

He learned how to balance academics and athletics.

“The most important thing to me was establishing a work-play relationship,” John said. “In high school, I lived and breathed football but also did not have as heavy of a course load. In college, it was all about managing my time, especially once I got into my prerequisite courses for grad school.”

Commencement is postponed until Oct. 11 as part of homecoming and alumni weekend, but John will be starting graduate school Oct. 1, so he’s unsure if he will be able to participate. He will receive his diploma in the mail after finals are complete.

He will be attending Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the master of physician assistant program.

“I hope to show others that your drive to succeed needs to come from nobody but yourself. Nothing will be handed to you, and time management is key, especially in college,” John said. “I am thankful for my parents, all of my instructors and coaches that have pushed me this far.”

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Names: Reed and John McKinney

Hometown: Brownstown

Education: Reed graduated from Seymour High School in 2012 and earned a Bachelor of Science in biology magna cum laude from the University of Indianapolis in 2016 and a doctorate of dental surgery from the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis in 2020. John graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 2016, received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and minor in biology from Franklin College in 2020 and will start the master of physician assistant program at Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the fall.

Family: Parents, Mark and Joyce McKinney; sister, Tori (Andy) Litchfield