By Matt Sinclair ‘90
A pediatric dentist, Dr. Constance Killian Neves ’77 has a waiting room filled with patients ages 1 to 16.
“Children are so honest,” she says. “They immediately let you see how they are feeling—sad or happy, scared or excited. And they are so trusting. It makes me realize what a precious responsibility it is to care for them.”
Besides her private practice in Doylestown, Pa., Killian is one of four faculty for the Comprehensive Review of Pediatric Dentistry course, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and serves as an adjunct faculty member at University of Pennsylvania’s dental school, where she earned her dentistry degree. Named a top dentist for 2012 by Philadelphia Magazine, she served as president of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2004-05.
Killian, known to her patients as Dr. Connie, says, “I love being able to identify the concerns and needs of a parent or child and then address them in a positive and caring way.”
A biology graduate, Killian planned on a career in research or teaching. But her adviser, Shyamal Majumdar, and Bernard Fried, both Kreider Professors Emeritus of Biology, helped her see other possibilities.
“Dr. Fried made lower invertebrate zoology real and relevant. He inspired me to find something I was passionate about,” she says. “Dr. Majumdar introduced me to the scientific method and published research. In fact, my first publication was as his student as part of my honors thesis. Research and writing have been part of my professional life since.”
Killian chose pediatric dentistry after being inspired by her female orthodontist while she was in college and then testing that interest by working for her family dentist during the summer. “I have been blessed in being able to pursue and enjoy the career that I love,” she says.
Killian was a member and piano accompanist for Meistersingers, a mixed voice choral group led by John Raymond, director of College Choir and Glee Club through 1976. She took numerous music courses and continues to pursue that interest. Part-time organist and member of the choir at her church, she also participates in Doylestown Comfort Choir, a group that lifts the spirits of patients in hospice.
Lafayette offered her direction and set a strong foundation for professional development. “My Lafayette education, along with tremendous support from my family, gave me the knowledge, confidence, and experiences that helped shape my career,” she says.
“I was struck by the individual attention that we were given, and I believe that the faculty’s focus on undergraduate education is where Lafayette really shines.”
Killian derives great satisfaction from watching her patients grow from small babies to young adults. “Several patients have chosen dentistry as their career, and others are now bringing their children to me,” she says. “That’s the greatest compliment to me as a pediatric dentist.”
Killian’s experience at Lafayette led her younger brother, James Killian ’84, to attend the College, and she encourages her teenage patients to consider it. “I’ve had a number of patients take my suggestion to visit the campus, and they loved the school,” she recalls. “After they visit, Lafayette usually becomes their first choice.”