My senior year of undergrad was filled with a mix of emotions. Many of my classmates felt relieved at finally finishing up coursework for their degrees and excited to move onto the next chapter in their lives. For me, however, it was about focusing my energy on applying to dental school, transitioning into the real world and making the most of what I had in front of me. One of the most formative experiences I had as an undergraduate was being a part of our school choir.
Music has always been an important part of my life, but being a part of my college choir felt like an elevated version of all of my past musical experiences. Together, we put on an annual musical, toured the country and traveled abroad to Italy to perform – all the while remaining an incredibly close-knit group. As my senior year came to a close and my time in the choir ended, I felt a huge loss. Between my job assisting in an orthodontist’s office and the time I would need to put in over the next year applying to dental school, I knew that I wouldn’t be as involved with music in the same way that I had been in the past. I spent the next two years attending concerts and appreciating music from a distance.
It wasn’t until I moved to Maine to attend the University of New England College of Dental Medicine, that I rekindled my involvement with music. In my very first week of school, I attended an involvement fair on campus to learn about the different groups and activities that I could be a part of. To my surprise, I came across the Dentnotes: an acapella group of four other students who simply loved to sing. Though this group was organized much more informally than what I was used to, their passion was clearly there. I jumped right in, knowing that this was going to be a great way to help balance out any stress as a first-year dental student.
At the time, the Dentnotes weren’t very structured. We started small, only working on a few songs at a time. But for those few hours that we practiced, we found ourselves singing our worries away. From there, we grew together. We started by organizing a small Christmas concert and invited the staff, faculty and students of the College of Dental Medicine to share in the holiday spirit. The positive response encouraged us to take those songs and perform them in downtown Portland for the rest of the community. I’m proud to say that this has since become a tradition.
It has been incredibly rewarding to make new friends who enjoy music and singing just as much as I do. I may have been content in appreciating music on my own from afar, but experiences such as these have reminded me how meaningful it is to not only make music with other people, but also to share it. Likewise, dentistry is all about people, and so this insight has also been translatable to my experience as a dental student. As we have been told time and time again, pursue your passions, but don’t forget to share it with others. You never know who you may inspire next.
~ Kailee Williams, New England ’19