JTHS Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Graves, DDS, Joliet Central ‘99

Career & Education At-a-GlanceNicole_Graves.png

  • University of Illinois, Bachelor of Science in Biology
  • University of Illinois, Bachelor of Science in Dentistry
  • University of Illinois, Doctor of Dental Surgery 



Joliet Central High School alumna Nicole Graves, DDS (’99) exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship, commitment to the local community, and great intelligence and character.

She now proudly owns and operates her own dental office, The Tooth Company, in New Lenox and works as a dentist performing procedures such as root canals, dentures, and whitening with great care and respect for every patient.

While at Central, Dr. Graves took advantage of the education opportunities available by joining and being an active member of the school band and the student council, both very formative experiences that fostered her creativity, leadership, and work ethic. 

Looking back on the education that helped prepare her, Dr. Graves fondly says, “My most inspirational teacher was Mrs. Vaughn. She was always positive and encouraging. She made learning fun and her class was always enjoyable.”

With her teachers’ support and her own hard work and ambition, Dr. Graves graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology. Dr. Graves went on to attend The University of Illinois College of Dentistry where she was awarded her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree along with a Bachelor’s of Science in Dentistry degree.

She is also a member of the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society and Will County Dental Society.

During her final year of dental school, Dr. Graves devoted much of her time to internships in underserved communities. She also volunteered on weekends at a free community clinic called Goldie’s Place. This clinic was operated by dental students with the intent to help adults who are homeless become financially independent by improving their confidence with brand new smiles.

In addition to owning her own practice, Dr. Graves visits local schools teaching proper oral hygiene and brushing techniques. She has also traveled to many schools providing mobile dentistry services including exams, cleanings, fluoride and sealant placement.

Dr. Graves is very passionate about the field of dentistry and about helping people. She continues to develop her professional abilities in order to provide quality health care for all.

When asked what advice she offers for current high school students, Graves says, “Never give up on your dreams. Use negative comments, discouragement and lack of confidence from others as fuel to help you reach your goals.”

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