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Spotlight on Neighbors: The Dragstedt Family

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Little did they realize it, but Carl and Alissa Dragstedt had an international connection before they even met each other.

The son of a West Point graduate Army Captain and a nurse, Carl was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. Alissa’s native Michigan teacher parents taught the children of US Army soldiers stationed at various bases in Germany where Alissa was born (in Würzburg). Alissa and her siblings grew up in Germany when there was a stronger American military presence than today. She even attended German elementary school until the fourth grade and became bilingual. Her dad organized family vacations around skiing trips in the Alps, with sports-oriented or educational forays into England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria. Carl’s family eventually relocated to central Massachusetts where he grew up in the city of Marlborough.

Carl commented, “I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine where I studied American History. But soon after graduation, I became interested in pursuing medicine, both for an interest in science, as well as to be of service to others.” Carl obtained his medical degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Ft. Lauderdale, then completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Florida, serving as chief resident from 2007-08. He also completed fellowships at UF Shands in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology. He noted, “I consider it a joy, an honor, and a privilege to be a physician, to interact with people from all walks of life, and to see what new challenges each day holds.”

For the past two years Carl has worked as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, specializing in clinical cardiology for UF Health in Starke, Florida. There he emphasizes the importance of prevention—a healthy lifestyle that involves diet and exercise and finding balance in life. He added, “I enjoy listening to my patients and communicating what can sometimes be complex medical situations in clear, understandable language. I truly enjoy the patients I serve, getting to know them and
their stories.”

Alissa attended the University of Florida and earned her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences in 1998. She went on to obtain a DMD from UF in 2005 and practiced general dentistry for two years locally. Alissa said, “I found treating children the most enjoyable part of my profession and decided after a couple of years that I would pursue a two-year residency in pediatric dentistry at UF.” She finished her training in 2009.

“Even though my general dentistry practice was invaluable,” Alissa added, “I feel privileged to be able to do what I truly love to do with kids every day. My goal is to help provide them a cavity-free lifestyle. Toward that end, I put prevention at the forefront of my care.” Alissa is also an adjunct clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the University.

How did these two highly intelligent, strongly motivated and deeply dedicated medical professionals meet? Carl recalled, “In late 1999, we were both working for a biotechnical company in Alachua County. This was before we attended medical and dental school. There was instant electricity and chemistry between the two of us, so we began dating and got married two years later at Pemaquid Point, Maine in 2001.”

Alissa remembered it this way, “Carl was working with a huge, impressive robot when we met at a company that was sequencing the human genome. I was impressed with his intellect, as well as his looks. Then we found out we had so many things in common: love of family, friends, foreign travel, outdoor activities and just good times in general. We still cherish these things after nearly fourteen years of marriage.”

The Dragstedt’s have a son, Quinten, age eight, and a daughter, Alivia, age six. They both attend The Oak Hall School where this fall Quinten will start third grade and Alivia will start second. Quinten plays Lacrosse and basketball and Alivia enjoys volleyball. The busy Haile residents also make time to attend River Cross Church in Haile Village led by their good friends and Haile residents, Dave and Jan Patterson. Alissa noted, “We cherish and enjoy the fellowship we experience at River Cross, and we learn by example from the Patterson’s remarkable, loving, service-centered ministry.”

For fun, the Dragstedt’s work out, jog and enjoy playing with their dog, a young Doberman who Alissa calls “the best running partner ever.” The family makes time for vacations to visit relatives in Boston and Washington State; they also enjoy skiing, and even hiked in the Alps in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland the past two summers. Alissa said, “We feel it’s important to keep a foothold in the culture of where we were born. And we’re so lucky that our kids are real troopers when it comes to traveling and having different experiences. They’re always up for a new adventure.”

And speaking of new adventures, in July 2014, Alissa will open the doors of her own dental practice in Jonesville called Grins & Giggles Pediatric Dentistry. “Going out on my own,” Alissa said, “is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. We’ve built a 4,500 square foot energy-efficient building that will more than accommodate our already growing practice. In fact, it looks like we’ll be adding another female dentist to the practice during the summer. I’m so excited about the prospect and just taking this innovative step in general. This endeavor is rewarding on so many levels.”

When they’re not engaged in helping others by using their medical acumen and skills, Carl and Alissa make the most out of living in Haile Plantation. As Alissa summarized, “My ritual every Saturday when we’re in town is to go to the farmer’s market. We do our grocery shopping in Haile, get our haircut in Haile, exercise in Haile, and attend church in Haile. I guess we’d never really need to leave if we didn’t want to. It’s a great place to raise a family and we’re very grateful we chose to stay in the Gainesville area after finishing our training. The one degree of separation rule definitely applies in this amazing community. The longer we stay here, the smaller it feels and the more fulfilling it becomes.”

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