Undergraduate: University of Kentucky
Dental School: University of Kentucky College of Dentistry
Residency: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Chief Resident: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Past or current faculty appointments: Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Mountain Area Health Education Center, University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry
Dr. Cummins grew up in central Kentucky and has had a rich career in various dental venues. While in college and dental school at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), he won numerous awards and then completed a residency in dentistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine / North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Winston-Salem, NC). While in his final year of residency, he was honored to serve as the chief resident. Following successful completion of the residency, he moved to Newport News, VA and worked as an associate in private practice, while being on staff and holding hospital credentials at Riverside Regional Medical Center. While in Newport News, he was also on the clinical faculty at the Medical College of Virginia’s School of Dentistry in Richmond, VA. Dr. Cummins later returned to Wake Forest University School of Medicine to be on full-time faculty in the dental residency program. He then returned to his home state of Kentucky and opened (from scratch) and ran a solo private practice for fifteen years, near his home town. After retiring from his private practice, Dr. Cummins came to MAHEC to continue his career by sharing what he has learned throughout the years with both dental residents (at MAHEC) and students (from University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry). Dr. Cummins also sees patients at MAHEC Dental Health Center. His special interest within comprehensive dental care is crown and bridge dentistry.
Dr. Earnest grew up in Mooresville, NC, near Lake Norman. He completed his undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina Wilmington majoring in Biology. He then went on to complete his dental education at LECOM School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, FL. Following graduation, he completed a general practice residency at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT. While in residency, he had the opportunity to treat a wide variety of patients both within the dental and medical setting. Since graduation, he has practiced both in Florida and North Carolina. He is very excited to join MAHEC as full-time faculty for the opportunity to help educate new dentists and to provide dental services to WNC.
Dr. Gonzalez-Espinoza was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, Central America. He attended dental school at Universidad Evangelica de El Salvador. He completed an International program in Prosthodontics at New York University, NY, where he discovered the topic of his passion: implant dentistry. He completed a Master’s in Science in Periodontology program in Munster, Germany, in 2017.
In 2011, he joined the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA, as an Assistant Professor, where he became Course Director for Preclinical Implant Dentistry and a Clinical Faculty member of both the surgical and restorative teams for implant services working in the Preventative and Restorative Departments of Oral Surgery, a position he held for 12 years until he decided to join MAHEC.
He is a Fellow of the ITI (International Team for Implantology) and is passionate about mentoring others to advance in the implant field.
Undergraduate: University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Dental School: UNC Adams School of Dentistry - Chapel Hill
Dr. Ken Hornowski grew up in Asheville, received his DDS in Chapel Hill in 1979, and returned to Asheville where he practiced for more than twenty years. He then became an Adjunct Professor in the AEGD Residency program at the UNC School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill where he taught for the next fifteen years. Once his daughters started having grandchildren he returned to Asheville full time. Dr. Hornowski retired for a couple of years and then was excited to have the opportunity to once again teach residents in the outstanding Dental MAHEC Residency. He has lectured on Practice Management issues in the US and at the Southern European Dental Conference in Lodz, Poland. Dr. Hornowski truly enjoys teaching residents and fourth year UNC Scholars as they know it is time to understand how to provide excellent and enriching treatment for their patients.
After graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry, and completing her residency and fellowship, Dr. Jowers came to Western North Carolina to help develop a hospital-based oral health program for Mission Hospitals. The resulting program successfully advocated for positive change and provided care to underserved people for two decades, and Dr. Jowers presented that program at the Surgeon General’s Conference in Washington, DC. She then taught with East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine where she served as Assistant Director for one of the learning centers until she was recruited to UNC at MAHEC.
Dr. Jowers' interests include: teaching new doctors and providers to be compassionate and effective; providing the public with better education in oral health and wellness; creating new ways to reach people with information, understanding and care; and providing operating-room oral rehabilitation for people who cannot tolerate adequate outpatient dental care.
Dr. Osta was born and raised on the eastern side of the state in Greenville, NC. She completed her undergraduate education in economics at UNC-Chapel Hill and Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at ECU School of Dental Medicine. As a fourth year dental student, she rotated through two community service learning centers in Western NC - Sylva and Spruce Pine. Dr. Osta fell in love with the mountains in NC and continued her dental education at the MAHEC general practice residency. She is excited to stay with MAHEC as an adjunct faculty member to share experiences while teaching and continuing to learn with her fellow colleagues in the dental profession. During her days off from dentistry, Dr. Osta enjoys spending time with family and friends and traveling.
I am a North Carolinian through and through! I was born and raised in Raleigh and attended college and dental school at UNC-Chapel Hill. I was fortunate enough to do my General Practice Residency at MAHEC in 2011-2012….and to get married to my husband Chris who is also a dentist and MAHEC graduate. We moved away for a few years after residency but missed the mountains and soon returned to western North Carolina to stay. I truly enjoy all aspects of general dentistry and my heart is in helping people and treating patients like family. My work in private practice, dental education, and public health is a unique blend and has made me a better dentist, educator, and person. I am very active in continuing education and hold leadership positions in the Buncombe County Dental Society and the North Carolina Academy of General Dentistry. When I am not working I am soaking up quality time with our young daughter, riding my Peloton bike, or out walking our Labradoodle Flossy who we spoil completely rotten.
Undergraduate: Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI
Dental School: University of Michigan
Dr. Shields joined MAHEC Dental Residency Faculty in 2018 following 32 years of general practice in Southwestern Michigan.
Hello and welcome! The Department of Dentistry here at MAHEC is a wonderful team of people providing not only great care but an exceptional educational experience. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve alongside this group.
I grew up in Georgia and am humbled to be a third generation Dentist in our family. Dentistry has certainly changed through the years! I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Furman University before pursuing a master’s degree in Biochemistry from Colorado State University. From there, I completed my dental training at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, receiving a DDS degree. Depending on professional goals and program specifics, I tend to highly advocate for post-graduate Dental residency training. So, I completed a two-year General Practice Residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. After residency, I established and grew an independent, solo dental practice in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I maintained this practice for the next 14 years or so all the while continuing to serve as faculty in the Department of Dentistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Desiring to increase my teaching activity, I then joined the full-time faculty in the Department of Dentistry at MAHEC and have found that this decision has proven to be a highly rewarding one, mixing continued patient care and a very active balance of teaching.
Professionally, my interests are in comprehensive treatment planning including those of medically complex patients, surgery, and anesthesia. I also have a passion for practice management such that the dental team can be the most efficient and productive in allowing our patients access to the full breadth of care we can provide. Helping learners find and grow in what they are passionate about in dentistry definitely increases my energy!
Dental School: Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
Master’s in Clinical Research: University of California, San Francisco, CA
General Practice Residency: Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
Oral Medicine Specialty: Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
Dr. Valdez has been at MAHEC since finishing his specialty training in 2018. He currently is the GPR residency program director and director of dental education at MAHEC. Dr. Valdez has a special interest in hospital dentistry and medically complex patients, oral lesions, facial pain, and oral complications from autoimmune conditions and cancer treatment. He is the recipient of the Lester Burket Memorial Award from the American Academy of Oral Medicine and has multiple publications in peer-review journals. Dr. Valdez is also the service line leader for dentistry at Mission HCA hospital and serves as a board member of the Health and Human Services in Buncombe County.
Norman Zarr moved with his family to Miami, Florida from Middletown, NY when he was two years old and lived there through his college years at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. He attended the University of Tennessee Dental School in Memphis and when on to work at the Virginia Health Department for more than two years. Upon leaving the Health Department he returned to Miami and started a dental practice in Hialeah where he worked for over 35 years. Dr. Zarr then took over another dental practice in Coral Gables, Fl, retiring from practicing general dentistry after four more years.
After trying retirement, he found his way back into the profession as an Adjunct Professor at the Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine where he taught for a number of years. From that position, Norm then accepted another adjunct professorship at the Midwestern School of Dental Medicine in Glendale, AZ where he worked and taught for another three years.
Norm and his wife then moved to Asheville, the location they had previously chosen for their retirement years. One last unsuccessful attempt at retirement, and then Norm found his way to MAHEC where he has enjoyed being part of the dedicated and talented team of professionals. Working with the Residents and the 4th year UNC scholars has been a significantly rewarding part of his life, and Norm feels sincerely fortunate to be a part of the MAHEC community.