Am I “non-traditional”?

I love hearing the word “non-traditional” because it gives me a little chip on my shoulder when I describe my journey to where I’m at today. When I first heard non-traditional, I thought it was a bad connotation and got a little discouraged from it. I knew when I graduated from undergraduate that I wasn’t immediately going to apply for dental school. Not by choice, but that’s how life is sometimes.

After I graduated from Arizona State University, I attended a Give Kids a Smile event in Arizona and was introduced to ASDA by some of the members. They gave me information about ASDA and ASDA’s Predental Week that was coming up. At first I hesitated because I thought it was just going to be a general description of how to apply to dental school, but I was way off-mark when I looked it up online. I first clicked on the predental section and found a section that was for me. There was the guide for non-traditional students and my confidence about applying as a non-traditional student skyrocketed. The guide not only showed me how to improve my application, but it also showed me that there are so many different routes that students take to get into dental school. Reading blogs from dental students that had it way harder than me humbled me tremendously.

Preparation is what I learned from ASDA. Proper preparation is the key to success when filling out your application for dental school. I remember watching the webinar recordings from the first ASDA Predental Week because I was working at the time, and I listened to a couple of individuals that said that they received the most out of their gap years in between graduation and dental school at a dental office. I’ve shadowed for quite some time, but I’ve never really thought of being part of an office before I got into dental school. I just thought I would worry about that when I was in school. That webinar changed my path that night and from that moment on, I was determined to find myself in a dental office.

I’m currently interning as a dental assistant at Pure Dental, the office of Dr. Daniel Kang, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity. Working in a dental office has opened my eyes to so much more than I would have ever expected and I hope opportunities like this will show you that ASDA is thinking about every type of predental student out there. Non-traditional students have some great stories like this and ASDA will be hosting a webinar tonight at 7p.m. CT on “Non-traditional Paths to Dental School” to highlight some of the paths these students took. I hope to learn more from these students that will lead me to opportunities to make me not only a better dental student, but also a great leader in my community.

~Taylor Velasquez, Arizona State University ’12, Predental Advisory Committee member

Taylor Velasquez

Taylor Velasquez is the ASDA chapter president at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He is a third-year dental student, pursing his DMD and MPH. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attended Arizona State University, where he met his wife, Brooke. He enjoys playing fold and reading during his free time.

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1 Comment

  1. You are definitely correct when you say that proper preparation is the key to success (in dental school and in life)! Congratulations on your internship at Pure Dental. I hope you enjoy your experience! Good luck to you throughout your career!

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