Sierra Vista native Kimberly Engols graduated from Buena High School in 2008. Since then, she has become an accomplished student, a licensed dentist and an officer in the U.S. Navy.
Engols was born in Fulda, Germany, in 1989, and moved to Sierra Vista after her father was stationed at Fort Huachuca in 1990.
Starting at the age of 6, Engols began taking martial arts classes at Starworld Academy of Tang Soo Do, and at the age of 19, received her third-degree black belt. In addition to taking classes there herself, she began teaching martial arts classes to the children at her studio, as she advanced and eventually served as the program director for her martial arts academy.
“Martial arts was my main extracurricular throughout high school,” Engols remarked.
At Buena, she participated in the school’s math club and took a variety of AP and honors classes.
“If you wanted to go far and you wanted to do things, there were a lot of teachers and mentors at Buena that were ready to help me and push me in the right direction,” she said.
Going into college, Engols knew she wanted to be a dentist. She attended the University of Arizona and majored in ecology and evolutionary biology after receiving various scholarships such as the AIMS tuition waiver scholarship, the Arizona Assurance Scholarship, and the Miss Sierra Vista 2nd Runner-up Scholarship.
Upon graduating, Engols took a job in a pediatric dental practice, and later the Dream Center, a nonprofit dental clinic in Los Angeles. There she worked under Dr. Bruce, who provided dental care for people transitioning through or experiencing homelessness.
“Dr. Bruce was so passionate about giving back and I saw the direct impact he made on his patients’ lives,” Engols remarked. “I knew this would be a field I would enjoy.”
Engols was then offered the Navy Health Professions and Collegiate Scholarship that allowed her to attend dental school at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.
After graduating from dental school, she received her commission as a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy in May. A month later, she attended officer development school in Newport, Rhode Island.
“I have been surrounded by strong leaders throughout my life, from my mom as a business owner, my dad serving in the Army, my martial arts instructors, and various teachers and mentors I met growing up in Sierra Vista,” Engols said. “As a naval officer and as a dentist, I am inspired by my mentors to become my best as a clinician and as a leader, so I can give my best to those who are serving our country.”
According to Engols, dental school was about half women and half men, but the Navy was a much different experience.
“In the dental corps, there were probably around three women for every 30 men,” she said.
Although women are vastly outnumbered in her occupational specialty in the military branch that patrols the world’s seas, she said the Navy did everything it could to make sure there was no gender bias.
“They made it clear that a man or a woman could do what we were doing,” Engols said.
Her mother, Annette Engols, said her daughter never had a problem with excelling in a career with primarily male co-workers.
She had some advice for women seeking professions in male-dominated fields.
“As a female coming into this environment, it’s important to make sure you are respected within your field. Focus on your craft, focus on your leadership skills, and seek respect above all else.”
Engols’ mother added that she comes from a strong, working family with supportive and encouraging siblings and parents.
“Kimberly has been consistently working on her goals,” said the elder Engols, who owns the German Cafe, which is located on East Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista. “However, she still takes time to go traveling, go out country dancing, or just have fun!”
The younger Engols now works at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in California, where she provides service members, their families and retirees with comprehensive and emergency dental care.