Michelle Chen

First Impression - Predoctoral

Hometown: Washington Township, N. J.

Chapter: Harvard

Graduation Year: 2020

Position Held At Chapter: Treasurer


Who inspired you to become a dentist?

My mom is a dentist and has always been a role model in my life, but it was a long and winding road before I finally decided to become a dentist. At first, I wanted to go into medicine. After shadowing some physicians, I realized that they spent a lot of time doing paperwork and rarely any time with patients, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. Then I spent a few months working as an investment banker, but quickly realized how much I loved biomedical sciences. I realized that I wanted a career that would let me make a difference in people’s lives. Dentistry was the perfect fit!

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…

That procrastinating may have been doable in college, but medical school and dental school definitely require a lot more studying and planning ahead.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school?

We spend our first year completely as medical students taking medical school classes and seeing patients in the hospitals, so it’s great to finally be a dental student learning about things that are directly related to my career.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far?

That just because you get good grades doesn’t mean you’ll have the best hand skills or be the best at talking with patients and vice versa. Everyone is good at their own thing and if you try to be the best at everything, you’ll only unnecessarily stress yourself out.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why?

I graduated college a semester early, so I spent two-and-a-half months of my gap semester backpacking through Asia on my own. While I loved all eight of the countries I visited, I would have to say that Myanmar was my favorite. The country recently became open to tourism after a change in government. The Burmese people were so happy to see foreigners in their country and so incredibly friendly and welcoming, waving and yelling, “Mingalaba!” (“Hello!”), whenever they walked by!

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

When I was backpacking alone in South Korea, I decided to go to Jeju, a small island off the coast, where hardly anyone spoke English and most of the signs were in another language. I had the sweetest host who helped me plan my days every morning so that I wouldn’t get too lost. I remember once missing my bus stop and wandering around until I found a tourist center where no one knew what I was saying, so I had to keep repeating the name of the place I was trying to visit. Finally, a nice bus driver drove me to a location close to where I was going. Then, after waiting at a bus stop for 30 minutes, the bus driver rode right past me! A cab driver pulled up and took me to where I was headed. In the end, the journey was way more interesting than the destination!