Determined to become one of the largest dental providers in Northeast Florida, Dr. Hwang Marino reflects on his time at St. Johns with great appreciation for a school that helped mold him into the well-rounded professional he is today.
Hwang, who joined St. Johns in preschool, refers to the campus as his second home and his School friends as his family. A member of the inaugural football team and a 2005 Soccer State Champion, Hwang recalls, “I didn’t know anything different. I thought it was normal to play a bunch of sports in high school which I now know is uncommon at almost every other school.”
However, his St. Johns experiences didn’t stop at just athletics; he cherished his time in the classroom as well. Mrs. Judy Kalil was a huge part of his St. Johns career, he says, and he still keeps up with her to this day. He couldn't go without mentioning Mrs. Carol Hart’s science classes and applying her lessons to his college courses. Mrs. Tami Culbert’s ceramics class taught Hwang how to work on specific hand movements that he later perfected in dental school.
Hwang knew in his late middle school years that he wanted to become a dentist and a Gator at the University of Florida. Thus, he dedicated his high school career to become a well-rounded student, the type of student he knew the University of Florida would want. In the fall of 2009, Hwang’s dream became a reality, but as he recalls, “It was a rude awakening because my class sizes were bigger than the entire St. Johns student body. I really had to compete academically to be successful as a biology major.” Hwang graduated from the University of Florida in Spring of 2013 and began dental school the following fall.
After graduating from the University of Florida’s dental school in the spring of 2017, Hwang worked in a few associate roles and took the time to understand what it meant to run a successful dentistry practice. In May of 2019, Hwang’s goals came to fruition, and he is currently in his second office, one that used to be owned by his parents for their own medical practice. When speaking about the work that he does day to day, Hwang says, “A lot of people think that teeth are just there. However, they are a huge part of your overall health. So many things happen because of your teeth. A smile is a huge thing and a survival skill for life. Having the capability to change someone’s smile can really change someone’s life.”
Throughout Hwang’s life, he has been driven by his personal goals. As his life has changed, his goals have, too—from getting into The University of Florida to owning his dentistry practice. His new goal is for his patients to leave his office better than when they came in and as Hwang said “If you put in the hard work, you’re going to be successful on your own time.” He will most definitely be successful, but will never stop setting new goals.