Growing up, my dream profession stemmed from watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” I thought I wanted to explore a career in medicine, yet when I got to college, I started to rethink this. My father is a dentist, and I would visit his practice when I was younger, which gave me a sense of what this profession was like. The opportunity to impact people’s lives in a profound way and still enjoy a lifestyle that permitted individual growth appealed to me.
According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), in 2018, indebted students left dental school with an average amount of $285,000 owed. As the cost to attend dental school continues to rise, many prospective students are looking for opportunities to avoid taking on debt, while still gaining valuable experience. One way is through the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP).
In 2012, my brother and I established an annual summer camp designed for 11 to 14 year olds from underserved neighborhoods in Contra Costa County, California. The theme for last year’s camp was “Mind-Body-Spirit,” an intensive, holistic health session centered on the importance of finding a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit, as well as strategies to develop their potential and contribute to society. This encompassed fostering a positive outlook on their oral and overall health.
In January 2018, I began visiting the Boys & Girls Club of Jacksonville, Alabama. Through my involvement in my local community and its schools, I noticed that an overwhelming number of children lack professional role models. I wanted to help change that.
There is no one-size-fits-all pathway to leadership. Every person’s unique experiences add to how they pursue being a leader. Whether or not you consider yourself a leader, the opportunity to take your skills to the next level are right around the corner as an ASDA member. Take a moment to reflect on what leadership means to you, and then see how ASDA can fit into that definition, even as a predental student.
Participating in research is popular among various pre-health professional fields. Doing research as an undergrad is not a “must-do,” but some dental schools see it as a plus. Although it sounds endearing and can add to the professional growth of many undergraduate students, research can be scary at the same time. This fear could be attributed to some of the stereotypes (or myths) we hold about research. Here, I want to dispel those myths and discuss how to enjoy being a part of research, while learning a lot from the experience.
The last thing I expected to do was take a gap year after college. Everyone around me was applying and getting accepted to dental school right, and it was frustrating that I was not on the same path. What I had yet to realize was that going to dental school immediately after college was a path for some, and even though it wasn’t my path, that didn’t make my path any less fulfilling.