40 under 40 — Nathan Persell

Omicron, 2010 — Recognized in: 2018

Nathan PersellNathan Persell graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2010 where he served as President of the Omicron Chapter for two years. After graduation, he attended A.T.S.U. Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and earned his D.M.D. and Public Health Certificate, and subsequently commissioned in the U.S. Army. He then graduated from the Comanche Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Nathan is currently an activity-duty dentist at the N.A.T.O. Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe posting near Mons, Belgium. He married his college sweetheart, Samantha, and they are expecting their first child in April.

Nathan recalls how his formative years in university ended up greatly shaping his future personal and professional experiences:

“My early experiences with Zeta Psi were characterized by campus involvement, leadership, and an endless adventure of good times. During recruitment, I was introduced to actives who embodied a “work hard, play hard” attitude and a great group of pledge brothers who embraced the ideals of the fraternity. As a pledge class, we had a lot of fun, and my first year in Zeta Psi is a blur of road trips, parties, and hosting of the 160th International Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska. One of the most influential experiences in my early years with the fraternity was coordinating a campus-wide philanthropy event dedicated to two recently graduated brothers who passed away the previous summer. To see the turnout of family and friends who were not directly associated with the chapter helped me realize that the bonds of fraternity reached much further and wider than I ever imagined. The event became an annual celebration of life for those two gentlemen and a memorable event for everyone that participated.

The early experiences of leadership and brotherhood laid a strong foundation for my future endeavors. In addition to being elected Philanthropy Chair the first year, I went on to serve as President of the Omicron Chapter for two years, balancing leadership responsibilities with my academic workload and campus involvement. I was fortunate to have the mentorship of some outstanding Zetes that were impactful role models to me and still are to this day. Years later, I have maintained strong bonds with brothers, several of whom have traveled across the world to visit me during my posting in Europe, and our relationships initiated during our time in the Chapter continue to grow stronger. In addition, the experience I gained mentoring and guiding others has prepared me for a professional path of service and leadership. I went on to serve as President of my senior class in dental school and now serve as a Dental Officer in the U.S. Army. The leadership, social and philanthropic experiences, and mentorship gained through Zeta Psi helped to pave the foundation for my career.

My life has been punctuated by milestones and achievements that have continually led me to the next adventure, and I’ve always prided myself on putting forth my best effort. Now, I find that my current service to the U.S. Army as a dentist is my greatest achievement so far. I worked diligently through college to get accepted into dental school, and worked even harder for the next four years to earn my D.M.D. Using my skills and getting to practice a profession that I love every day to serve soldiers, sailors, and airmen is a great source of pride and fulfilment. It is truly humbling to serve others who serve. My days are peppered with providing a combination of dental care for these service members and their families and mentoring other young soldiers who have ambitions both within dentistry and the military, and beyond. I am proud of having created a life where I can serve others.

I was fortunate to meet some great mentors and role models. I maximized opportunities that I had and created more opportunities from that success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without many people who have mentored and invested in me. Take advantage of and listen to those who have wisdom and experience beyond your own, and pay it forward and provide the same for those behind you – it can have a truly meaningful and positive impact.

One of the most humbling and interesting experiences I’ve had has been while living in Belgium is visiting the location of the World War I field hospital were where LTC Dr. John McRae is thought to have written “In Flanders’ Fields”. To learn more about the Great War where so many U.S, Canadian, and British service members and civilians lost their lives is truly humbling, and it was a momentous experience to walk the grounds that were the birthplace of proud history of Zeta Psi. ”

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