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Dr. Catrise L. Austin

Dentist and entrepreneur Catrise L. Austin was born on May 2, 1970, in Flint, Michigan. She discovered her passion for dentistry at age 15 while visiting the orthodontist for braces. Austin was voted prettiest smile in 1988 at Flint Central High School, where she received her diploma that same year. Austin went on to receive her B.A. degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1991 and her Doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Maryland in 1996. Moving to New York in 1996, she completed her advanced dental training at Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center.

Working as a dental hygienist motivated Austin to start her own practice which she did in 1998, becoming the Chief Operating Officer of VIP Smiles, a successful New York cosmetic and sports dental practice. The practice boasts an impressive and loyal following, including such entertainment luminaries as Isaac Hayes, Toni Braxton and Missy Elliot. In addition, The Discovery Health Channel, The Queen Latifah Show, and The Ricki Lake Show have used her services.

Austin has broken gender and racial boundaries and established herself in a field traditionally dominated by men. She is one of the most well-known and highly regarded dentists in the entertainment industry. The Network Journal named her one of the 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business in 1999. She holds professional memberships in the American Dental Association, New York County Dental Society, American Association of Women Dentists, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists, and the Academy of Sports Dentistry. She also holds social memberships in the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment, the Black Sports Agents Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Austin resides in New York City.

Accession Number

A2006.001

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/6/2006

Last Name

Austin

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Schools

Flint Central High School

University of Michigan

Dort Elementary School

Flint Southwestern Academy

University of Maryland School of Dentistry

First Name

Catrise

Birth City, State, Country

Flint

HM ID

AUS02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cancun, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/2/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Collard Greens

Short Description

Dentist and entrepreneur Dr. Catrise L. Austin (1970 - ) was the COO of VIP Smiles, a cosmetic and sports dental practice whose clientele included Missy Elliot, Earl Graves and Toni Braxton.

Employment

VIP Smiles

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Catrise L. Austin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her father and her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her neighborhood in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers Dort Elementary School in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls attending Flint Academy High School

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her activities at Flint Academy High School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her social group as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her favorite high school subjects

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her younger sister's birth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her calling to dentistry

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her interest in dentistry and her part-time job

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her family's move from Flushing to Flint

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes choosing the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her best friend, Darlene Tolbert

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her mother's support

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her ambitions as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin talks about her sister's pregnancy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers applying for dental school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her time at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her time at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes Dr. Oscar Wright's support

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls her dental residency at Brooklyn's Lutheran Medical Center

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her decision to stay in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls her early dental career in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls her early dental career in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers meeting Issac Hayes

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her friendship with Isaac Hayes

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls meeting Toni Braxton and Missy Elliott

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her dental practice

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Catrise L. Austin describes her plans for the future

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Dr. Catrise L. Austin remembers her calling to dentistry
Dr. Catrise L. Austin recalls her early dental career in New York City, pt. 2
Transcript
At what point did you start to, or who introduced the idea that you would go to college to you? Who starts--talk to you about going to college and that high school wouldn't be the end for you?$$The, I, I would probably would say my aunt [Angela Austin (ph.)] and my [maternal] grandparents [Carlean Austin and Wilman Austin (ph.)] definitely encouraged me to continue on and my, and my mother [Michele Austin] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) What did they say--what did people say to you?$$Well once my aunt became successful after having a college degree. At an early age, she was able to buy her first home and buy a car. So, you know, we were all looking her like wow she's, she's really making it and the college education has paid off. So I think seeing her achieve the things that she did, with her college education there was no question that I would go on and get my college education. But I discovered, also at fifteen, that was the age I discovered that I wanted to be a dentist. Because I--actually had a large space between my teeth and had a routine dental visit. And just expressed to the dentist, you know, they asked, is there anything about my smile that I didn't like. And told 'em that I didn't like the gap, and he was like, "You can get braces." So I begged my mother, you know, to get braces for me. And the whole dental experience of wearing braces at the age fifteen, opened my eyes that maybe that this was something that I wanted to explore as a career. Particularly when I got the braces off, I got so many compliments on my smile, my self-esteem just sky rocketed. I really, at that age, discovered how important a smile is and that people pay attention to your smile. And how it could have positive impact on your life. So at that point having discovered that this, this is something that I may want to do for a living I knew at that point that college was definitely was gonna be. 'Cause I had to go to college in order to become a dentist. So at that point, I was focused in high school [Flint Central High School, Flint, Michigan], I knew I had to take math and science courses. I really became focused on that, on that path.$I was already motivated and planning how I'm gonna start this practice and collecting business cards. So I said, well, I guess I'm just gonna have to find another office. And I'm, I'm already dec--I've already decided that I'm gonna to do this. I've already started telling people that I'm gonna have a practice opening soon. So I started to--I went to the S--small business association [U.S. Small Business Administration] and I said, well, I think I need a loan, I need to get some money, need to just plan my practice, start a business plan. So I had a counselor, I don't remember his name. But my counselor had met another black female dentist, Dr. Karen Gear, who's a root canal specialist. And he thought it would be a good idea that her and I meet. It so happened that she had affiliations with Harlem Hospital [Harlem Hospital Center, New York, New York]. She knew a lot of dentists in the area. We met, and she said, "I know plenty of dentists in the area that would rent space to you. As a matter of fact I have a dentist that's on 57th Street. He's African American male who's been there for thirty-five years. He's looking to rent space, you should give him a call." So it was great because I--it was the same street I wanted to be in the high profile area. And I would be with someone like me, so we met Dr. Thompson, Albert Thompson, and we decided that I would rent space from him. Now here's the good part, he knew that I didn't have any money saved. I didn't know how I was gonna really pull this starting a practice thing off.$$And you didn't get the loan?$$I did not get the loan at the time.$$At the time, okay, so you didn't have any money saved and he--continue.$$He said, "Listen, I know you're starting out, I'm gonna let you have the space at no charge. Just come here, work, work, work, you can use my instruments just get some of the basic things that you need to operate. You can rent my--you can have my space. And I'll see when you're starting make money, and when I see that you're starting to make money, then I'll charge you rent." So I worked in his office rent-free, until I built up enough clientele for me to afford to pay him rent. And I, that ex--that in, in itself I don't, I think it was priceless to have someone recognize the good in me and want to help me. And you don't find a lot of people that would be willing--that would be willing to give you something for nothing in return, so I definitely commend him. So I built my practice sharing the office with Dr. Thompson on 57th Street. And when it's--was time for me to open, I had been collecting business cards, I sent out a mass mailing. I'd signed on with some insurance plans. And my first patient was actually a friend of mine, a Kappa [Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity], from University of Michigan [Ann Arbor, Michigan]. Who said, "You know what, I know you from back when, and I know you're a good person I'm sure. I know you were always smart, I'm gonna give you a try." He worked for Pfizer [Pfizer Inc.], the pharmaceutical company, and he went back--I impressed him so much--that he went back and told all of his friends at Pfizer they have to support me. And he was very instrumental in helping to build the practice.