Southeast Alumna Honored with American Dental Association ‘10 Under 10’ Award


Southeast Missouri State University alumna Dr. Danielle Riordan recently was named a recipient of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) annual “10 Under 10” award.

The ADA “10 Under 10” Awards recognizes 10 new dentists who demonstrate excellence early in their careers.

“I am so honored to be named a ‘10 Under 10’ recipient,” said Riordan, a native of St. Peters, Missouri, who practices at Family Dentistry of St. Peters. “I absolutely love the dental profession and working with my peers in organized dentistry. I have met so many amazing leaders throughout my early career who have helped me along the way. I am so humbled to be recognized for doing what I think is the natural thing to do. I firmly believe that if we truly loves dentistry, it is our duty to do all we can to protect our future in the profession. Being given recognition for doing that is surreal—I am beyond honored by this prestigious distinction.”

Selected by the ADA New Dentist Committee from more than 120 nominations, the winners were chosen for making a difference in science, research and education, practice excellence, philanthropy, leadership and advocacy. Recipients also were selected for  showcasing the devotion and time new dentists have put towards their profession. Winners had to be active ADA members who graduated between 2009 and 2018.

“New dentists really have their eye on the future of the profession and making it better for everyone,” said Dr. Lindsay Compton, chair of the ADA Subcommittee on New Dentist Engagement, which selected the winners. “They willingly take on large tasks and contribute to the integrity of the profession. Many of the pursuits were selfless and took an extreme amount of time and sacrifice to make the profession better.”

The ADA recognized Riordan for being a natural leader who inspires others and who is highly respected among her new dentist and established peers. Additionally, she is passionate about improving oral health care for the public and regularly volunteers for Give Kids A Smile, Donated Dental Services and Missions of Mercy. Her nominators describe her as “impressive” and a real-life wonder woman, stating that she “serves with distinction” and personifies grace and humility even in the face of difficult situations.

While at Southeast, alumna Dr. Danielle Riordan met her husband, Nick, also a 2005 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in finance.

Riordan, a 2005 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biology, has been interested in dentistry from a young age. She began her dental career working as an assistant during high school and throughout her time at Southeast in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with patients and knew it was the right fit for me,” Riordan said. “Being able to see someone smile after years of hiding behind their hands is by far the most motivating and exciting thing about working in the dental field. I am able to change someone’s life simply by using my skills, and that is an unbelievably rewarding feeling.”

She chose to earn her undergraduate degree at Southeast because the campus felt like home, and the academics and faculty provided the skills and knowledge she  needed to be successful in dental school and beyond.

“I knew I wanted to pursue dental school, and I knew in order to do that I would need a program that offered small class sizes with professors who were focused on their students’ academic success,” she said. “It was the best decision I could have made. I was continuously held accountable and driven to succeed by my professors.”

Riordan graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry in 2010. She is a member of the Missouri Dental Association (MDA) and the ADA Council on Membership; the 2019 first vice president of the Greater St. Louis Dental Society; and chair of the MDA Foundation Board. Riordan and her husband, Nick, have three children, Daniel, Grace and Alice.

During her time at Southeast, Riordan built strong relationships with the faculty, including Dr. Steven Trautwein, associate professor emeritus of biology, who helped her pursue academic and professional success.

She says the experiences she had while at Southeast prepared her for her professional and leadership roles.

“My time at Southeast contributed greatly to my success because it was at Southeast that I first developed leadership capabilities,” she said. “I was active in extracurricular activities on campus and this helped not only strengthen my leadership skills, but also taught me how to be responsible when it came to juggling multiple tasks. My education was top-notch and I felt fully prepared for my academics come dental school as well.” 

Riordan encourages students to explore and pursue volunteering and leadership opportunities, and to build positive relationships with their professors.

“They truly do care about your ultimate success and will hold you accountable for your academics. Ultimately, no matter what career path you choose, this will be one of the greatest benefits,” she said. “If you work hard and stay focused, you are capable of truly amazing things. And don’t forget to enjoy life at Southeast as well—success takes balance.”