2023 Tillman Scholar

Zachary Graham

University of Iowa

“By breaking down the dental-medical divide, we can expand the vital link that dentists play in the health of their communities.”

Zachary Graham’s decision to serve as a soldier and a dentist are rooted in the same foundational principle; he has the potential and therefore the obligation to make a difference in the world and the lives of others. He served in the U.S. Army as an all-source intelligence officer after commissioning as a distinguished military graduate from Army ROTC at Iowa State University. While stationed in Germany, he provided intelligence support to NATO aviation operations across Europe and the Middle East. During his military service, he discovered the transformative power of dentistry—a field at the intersection of medicine and art. Zach left the Army to pursue his passion and is currently earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. 

While in dental school, Zach has become heavily involved in advocating for patients and the dental field at the state and national levels, where he has lobbied on Capitol Hill. Zach’s experiences have led him to identify the critical role that dentists play in the health of their communities. Acknowledging the reality that many Americans see their dentist more than they do their physician—Zach’s goal is to change how we envision primary care by guiding dentists to serve a greater role in basic health screenings and identifying oral manifestations of systemic diseases. Together with a community of healthcare professionals, he seeks to break down the detrimental, systemic barriers between dentistry and medicine.