After a four hour long trip from McAllen to San Antonio, TX, we had arrived at the annual ADEA GoDental fair. My university, The University of Texas – Pan American, had a large number of predental students attend. We also stopped at the other Texas dental schools on the way.
What else was there to learn? I took the opportunity to explore outside of my comfort zone. I made an effort to speak to various dental schools that I had already researched online to find out more information. Out of the many schools I came across, one school caught my eye in particular. Dr. Young, the director of multicultural affairs, and a dental student, Matt, representing the University of Detroit Mercy – School of Dentistry had really guided me the most. They introduced me to UDM’s Summer Enrichment Program, which would teach me more about dentistry and help me to discover more about myself and my career aspirations. This enrichment program targets students who come from educational or financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
With only two weeks left until the application deadline, I arrived back home after the conference and I applied to the University of Detroit Mercy. I was admitted into the program and made my flight that same week. I was ecstatic!
In the past I had attended a summer program in Houston, so I was fairly comfortable with summer class sessions. Although I had been out of state a couple of times in the past, never had it been for six weeks. I was completely new to Detroit. Along with some regional culture shock, I felt nervous meeting new people at first. Being far away from home was hard for me to adjust to. During the summer I was acquainted with a small group of 25 students from all over the country. I can now say I have friends from Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, New Mexico, Nevada and beyond. I was so impressed by this group of driven and intelligent students that I had the privilege to meet and spend my summer with.
We were kept busy Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 6 weeks. Every week consisted of various activities. We were given a DAT preparation course. We watched presentations given by faculty members about various specialties and the diverse career pathways in dentistry. We received aid in application procedures as we prepared to fill out our AADSAS applications. Faculty hosted simulation labs where we were given a taste of dental school. We also attended a weekly professional development workshop to prepare us for dental school interviews. There was also a lesson on research and a weekly lesson about cultural diversity and its impact on our future careers in dentistry. Our nights ended late either studying or preparing for what was expected each day.
The educational gain was only half of my experience in Detroit. Outside of DAT prepping and assignments, we were given the opportunity to explore and get to know the city of Detroit. I was able to try a lot of new things! For example, not many people back in my hometown can say they sang “My Girl” in the actual recording studio of Motown records! We also explored the Detroit Museum of Arts, cheered on the Detroit Tigers at my first major league baseball game, and rode a boat that took us underneath the Canadian bridge. A group of friends and I even attended an annual concert in Detroit, “The Big Show at the Joe.”
At the end of this experience, I arrived home knowing more than I could have ever anticipated. I felt even more prepared for when the time comes to apply to dental school. It also taught me to not be afraid of change and to be more open to seeking dental school opportunities outside of Texas. I came home with stories to tell my friends and family. The 25 students who were at the session continue to contact and support each other as we enter our next chapter applying to dental schools.
Does your dental school offer a predental program like this? If so, we’d love to hear about it!
~Anne Marie Grajales, The University of Texas–Pan American ’15, Predental member
If you’re a predental and haven’t joined ASDA yet, now is the time! You’ll have access to valuable member benefits including ASDA’s print publications, discounts on Crack the DAT and Chad’s Videos and more. Most importantly, you’ll belong to the largest student run dental organization in the United States. Join us today by clicking the button below!
About Anne Marie Grajales
Born and raised in McAllen, TX, Anne Marie is a senior at the University of Texas - Pan American. She is graduating in 2015 with a bachelor's in biology with a minor in chemistry. She has been serving as the vice president of the Pre-Dental Society at UTPA. She became an ASDA member after attending Pre-Dental day at UTHealth School of Dentistry. Anne Marie has served her community through volunteer work with Texas Mission of Mercy, working as a drivers education instructor and CPR instructor. Her life goal is to continue to serve her community back home in dentistry, become a leader representing the profession and its future, and educating patients and the public about the importance of oral health.