This week, The Advertiser Gleam spotlights Austin Baker, general dentist.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born December 13, 1990, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. My parents moved there from Chattanooga, Tenn., and shortly after that we moved to Birmingham, AL where my brother Sam was born.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: After my brother was born, we moved to Sarasota, Fla., where I went to school through high school. I then attended Auburn University for my undergraduate studies and majored in biomedical sciences and graduated in 2013. I then went to the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry and graduated in 2017 before moving here to Guntersville, Ala.
Q: Where all have you lived?
A: Really only those places listed above. Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Sarasota, Auburn, Birmingham, and now Guntersville!
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I'm one of three dentists at Total Dental Care, and have been here since I graduated in 2017. I currently see patients ranging in age from 3 to over 90! We provide services that range from a standard 6-month cleaning to crowns, implants, root canals, and all the other things that people associate with going to the dentist.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: Well, as a kid/teenager I actually spent a lot of time in the dental chair. Before that I thought I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, but after spending countless hours in dental chairs due to some unforeseen elbows to the mouth (basketball players, please wear your mouth guards) my focus changed. I told this story in my dental school interview, and I'm pretty sure it's what lead to me being accepted, but the day I got my braces off and my front teeth fixed, I looked in the mirror and smiled for the first time in years and was proud of what I saw. Even to this day, as I'm writing it down, I get chills thinking about how much that meant to me. That feeling of complete gratitude I had for what my dentists were able to do motivated me to be able to provide that same feeling for others, and it's what continues to motivate me today.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: My job allows me to help a lot of people every time I come into the office, and I know it's cliché to say that, but it's actually true. I get to make a difference in the lives of my patients, and that's what keeps me motivated to continue to improve my skills and knowledge.
Q: What was your first job?
A: AC duct fabrication. Growing up, my dad was in the air conditioning business, and in the summers I would work in the warehouse fabricating duct out of fiberglass boards. Ironically the AC warehouse was without AC, and I think we all know that Florida gets hot in the summers, so it was always very tough, hot, and itchy work.
Q: If you could relive one day from your life, what day would you choose?
A: I've had a lot of great days, but I think I'd choose my wedding day. It's not too often you get all your family and best friends in one place celebrating together.
Q: What is your spouse’s name? What does she do for a living?
A: I married Jodi Pederson Baker on June 6th, 2015 in Huntsville. She and I met at Auburn University during my junior year, and her sophomore year. She then attended UAB for optometry school and graduated in 2018. She is practicing here in Guntersville and she recently opened her own practice from scratch called Lakeview Eye Care that's located on Gunter Avenue across from Regions Bank. I'm extremely proud of what she has accomplished and I do my best to support her in her professional life. If anybody needs an eye doctor, I can safely say that they will have an amazing experience if they were to go see her.
Q: Do you have any children?
A: No kids yet. Just 2 dogs and a cat.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: A 12 oz. filet (or New York strip) cooked medium rare plus lobster mac and cheese, Brussel sprouts with bacon, and my grandma's crumble top apple pie.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I'd want to go back to Yosemite National Park (and as many of the other national parks as possible).
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Exercise, running, hiking, climbing/bouldering, wood working, golf, basketball, tennis
Q: What do you enjoy about living and working in Guntersville and Marshall County?
A: I love living here because of the beautiful nature and amazing town, filled with friendly and welcoming people. I love having the lake to boat on, the state park to hike in, the awesome golf courses in our area, and the local restaurants and stores. Guntersville, and Marshall County in general, is the hidden gem of Alabama.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: Warren Buffet - I've got to know what the secret sauce is.
Q: Would you rather read a good book or watch a good movie and why?
A: Watch a good movie. Don't get me wrong, I love to read, but there's something about a good movie that has always appealed to me.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on you?
A: I don't think it would be a stretch to refer back to my other answer about seeing my smile for the first time after all my dental work when I was in high school as having the biggest impact on my life. It dramatically altered the course of my career and honestly put me on the path to where I am today.
Q: What would be the No. 1 thing on your Bucket List?
A: Climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (I'd need to get A LOT better though, and it would NOT be a free solo).
Q: If you could describe your morals in three words, what would they be?
A: Honest, respectful, altruistic.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: A good husband and partner. A best friend. An example to others.