‘It’s About Others’
Alumnus Gives Back to School that Helped Form Him
James Bongers, DDS’80, takes to heart the idea that “to whom much has been given, much is expected.” After graduating from the School of Dentistry, he established his practice in Junction City, Kansas, and has a track record of giving back.
“I set out my shingle to see if I could do it, and it has worked out great,” he said of his 35 years in dentistry. “The professors gave me the ability to be a dentist to patients without having to refer out. I was trained to do all of it. Creighton dental was very unique.”
So unique that Bongers has made a seven-figure cash commitment to the School of Dentistry Capital Initiative. He has also remembered the Creighton School of Dentistry in his estate. “I believe in giving back and making it better for the students,” explained Bongers, “so hopefully they can go out and help people. That would be the goal.”
His capital and estate gifts are in addition to a sizable gift he added to scholarships his parents had set up for the Creighton business and dental schools through their estate. Creighton is a family tradition with his parents, Leo Bongers, BSD’46, DDS’48, and Margaret Stanosheck Bongers, BSC’43, and three of his siblings (Teresa Bongers Beaufait, BSBA’78; Barry Bongers, DDS’69; and Dennis Bongers, BSBA’69) having graduated from Creighton.
Creighton helped shape Bongers into the person he is today. The combination of the guidance his parents gave him, as well as his undergraduate experience, and living the Jesuit mission while in dental school formed his outlook on life, which is, “It’s not about me, it’s about other people.”
Two Creighton programs in particular gave him the opportunity to give back to others while in dental school, yet in giving back he said he received so much more. Bongers participated in the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) in the Dominican Republic. “We used our abilities as dental and medical students, pharmacists, and nurses to work with people who had never had medical or dental care,” he said, “but what we gave to them was so little compared to what they gave to us. It’s a symbiotic relationship.” Bongers also participated in Creighton’s after-hours, student-run volunteer clinic at the School of Dentistry, assisting patients primarily from the Indian-Chicano Health Center (now called OneWorld Community Health Center) unable to afford traditional care.
“I thank God and I thank the dental school for what it did for me,” Bongers said. “I became the dentist I wanted to be; and if I have a chance to help people, I should.”
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