Hometown: Bowie, Maryland
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Spelman College
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Biology Major
Name of Dental School: Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry
Favorite Quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”― Mahatma Gandhi
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am a 3rd year dental student at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, TN. I have always been raised to help those around me. From early community service events in high school where I provided bag lunches to the homeless in DC, I realized how much I wanted to help people in my career. Initially I was not certain of which path to take. Then, I heard about a boy who died from an untreated tooth infection. This was a tragic circumstance that could have been prevented if he had received proper care. At Spelman College, the motto is “A Choice to Change the World”. The boy’s death had a lasting impact on me, and from that moment on I felt it was my mission to make a positive change and help prevent these oral problems in my career as a dentist. In the field of dentistry, I have made the decision to specialize in Orthodontics. I chose this as my specialty due to the range of patients – youth (but not babies), kids, teenagers and even adults. I like that I can build a relationship with my patients since I can treat them over a span of years. And I also truly love the impact that I will have on the patient. In Orthodontics, I can make a difference in one's life and give them confidence that they may have never experienced before; as well as help with other things. Having had Invisalign and traditional braces, I know firsthand how the effects of braces have truly impacted my life and I want to do the same for others.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
Enjoy your first year, but make sure you obtain a high GPA. As you get higher in your college education the classes will typically get harder, so it’s best to start strong so you have a cushion in case you may not do well in future courses. Build relationships with your professors so that they will give you guidance on your career path and help you connect with people in the field you are pursuing. They will also be able to write personal letters of recommendations, which can be a big help. Utilize your summers! Shadow professionals or participate in programs that are in your field so you gain exposure into what you want to do; it will also look good on your resume!
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to dental schools?
Save money for this process. Nobody told me how expensive the application process can get especially when it comes time for interviews and traveling to those places; so save up money if you can. It also won't hurt to start early with your personal statement. You want to give yourself enough time to write a good statement and have a couple people review it to give feedback to make your personal statement competitive. Review your application numerous times before you submit. It doesn’t look good to the schools if you have grammatical errors or didn’t fill out a section properly because you were rushing or didn’t take the time to review each section. Take your time and make sure it is perfect and to your liking. Contact the admissions offices at the various schools you are applying to in order to build rapport so that when you submit your application, that school will recognize your name and you won't just be a number in the applicant pool.
What is your favorite thing about your dental school?
At Meharry, I love the relationships and interactions among the students. Instead of being competitive with one another we really help each other by giving support, sharing resources and giving a helpful hand when others may be struggling. It is truly a family environment.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Utilize your summers and be productive in the field of dentistry. Become an active member in Dental clubs that are on campus and hold leadership positions. Attempt to shadow local dentists to gain exposure into the field and to help you decide if you want to specialize. Accumulate a lot of shadowing hours in the dental office. Attend dental conferences if you are able to. Know that networking is key! Do not be afraid to make connections with those in this field; many people are willing to help.
Wonderful! Thank you so much for your input and for your practical advice Veronica; it is very much appreciated!! There are a lot of students out there wishing to get into the field of dentistry who may not have as much of a support system as a lot of pre-medical students do, so I'm sure that this feature means the world to them!
Posted on February 22nd, 2017