Hometown: Severn, MD
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland College Park
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Public Health Science Major
Name of Dental School: Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry
Favorite Quote: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
Dental Instagram Blog: @ChasingDrLeeks
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am a first-year dental student at Meharry Medical College. I decided to pursue dentistry because of the many opportunities that the profession provides. For example, dentists provide a variety of services that can improve patients’ physical appearance which in turn could boost their self-image. Restoring the oral health of patients and positively impacting their lives must be very rewarding experiences. The artistic aspect of dentistry also attracted me to the profession. I believe that dentistry requires precision and a great deal of creativity, especially given that aesthetics is a major component of the profession. Ultimately, I plan to work with other dentists to provide benevolent healthcare to underserved communities.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
The first thing I would tell myself is that it is crucial to start off [academically] strong. When I was a freshman, I was focused more on getting involved with campus organizations and the social events. Looking back, I definitely wish I had a better balance between my academics and my social life. I would also tell myself to switch majors. I started college off as a pre-med student majoring in general biology. The main reason I chose this major is because I felt like it was required if I wanted to go into the healthcare field. This was not the case at all, but I wish somebody had told me that I could have majored in anything I wanted and just took prerequisite courses.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Perseverance is key. Being a pre-health college student is not easy by any means. The road likely will not be smooth, however it is so important to practice resilience when the rough times come. Nothing worth having in life comes easy, but accomplishing your goals hits different when you know that you worked hard and fully earned it.
What is your favorite thing about your dental school?
My favorite part about Meharry is definitely the community at the school. Students at Meharry often times refer to ourselves as one big family… and it’s true. The level of support, love, and encouragement I receive from everyone here (fellow students, professors, cafeteria workers etc.) is unmatched. I am blessed to be at a school that really exemplifies community service and helping the less fortunate.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I received a Master of Health Sciences degree from Meharry this past May. This one-year program provided me with a good opportunity to strengthen my time management skills and study habits.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of dental school?
I take breaks whenever I can to prevent burnout. It’s so easy to convince yourself that you can’t “afford” to take a break but the truth of the matter is that taking breaks actually can promote better productivity. Trying to study nonstop is not an effective method by any means.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in dental school?
I was involved in a few different cultural organizations as well as some professional ones. I joined the Global Dental Brigades chapter at my school and we went on a missions trip to Honduras in January 2018. This trip in itself solidified my interest in the field of dentistry because it really gave me more insight on the disparities that exist in the healthcare field.
Thank you for giving us some insight into your experiences as a dental student Malik! Your words will especially have an impact on those who are working on getting to where you are and beyond. Congrats on making it to dental school and keep up the great work as you power through your education!
Posted on May 13th, 2021