She thought it would be the dream job of her life. Working as a television editor and producer and, later, on-air reporter, she covered presidential visits, the mania of the Kentucky Derby and the public panic that ensued in the wake of a sniper’s shooting spree near Indianapolis.
But nearly five years after Elizabeth Fanciullo began her career in broadcast journalism in Kentucky, the young woman who had decided when she was 16 that all she wanted to be was a television reporter, decided that something was missing.
“I felt like I was talking into the camera and not knowing whether people were caring what I was saying,” said Fanciullo, who graduated from the University of Kentucky with a journalism degree and was twice honored by the Associated Press for her collegiate work as a reporter. “I wasn’t feeling fulfilled.”
It didn’t take much soul-searching for Fanciullo to take an 180-degree turn. Walking away from the camera, she decided she wanted to become a dentist – following in the footsteps of generations of her relatives, including her grandfather, great-grandfather, great uncle and others. To convince herself that dentistry is the right profession for her, she donned dentist scrubs and shadowed her dentist and his partner in Kentucky for three months. It removed any last doubts.
Making the leap to a new career, however, meant that Fanciullo had ground to make up for the years she spent in the newsroom and in front of the camera. If she was going to be a dentist, she had to satisfy the prerequisites for dental school. This meant taking eight science courses in two years, starting at Indiana University, going next to University of Illinois-Chicago and ending up at the City University of New York's Baruch College in Manhattan, when she and her husband, Derek, moved east after he enrolled in New York University Law School.
But for Fanciullo – who has a 3.5 GPA – it has been well worth it. After four years in dental school, student loan debt and lots of late nights and hard work, Fanciullo will be graduating from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in the spring and embarking on a second career she believes will give her the satisfaction and passion she just didn’t feel speaking on-air to thousands of viewers.
“It was a neat career and I enjoyed it,” she said. “But the personal satisfaction that I get from dentistry was missing.”
Fanciullo looks at dentistry as much as an art as a science and enjoys the precision that is required, which is not always part of the fast-paced world of broadcast journalism.
“I love the one-on-one interaction I get in dentistry and the instant gratification I can give someone,” said Fanciullo. “If it’s a broken tooth or a problem with a denture, I can fix it and the patient is thrilled.”