Carly V. Cotten

First Impression - Predoctoral

Hometown: Gulfport, Mississippi

Chapter: Mississippi

Graduation Year: 2021

Position Held At Chapter: Secretary


Who inspired you to become a dentist?
If you asked me at five years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell you a dentist, and it’s all because of my dad. He’s taught me the value of caring for others and how to handle unforseen situations. Over the years, I’ve watched how he cares for and treats his patients, and I knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I’ve seen him change people’s lives, and that is what inspired me to become a dentist.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…
Don’t stress over the little things. We constantly have a lot on our plates and tend to get frustrated over little things we have no control over. Take time for yourself and don’t let school overwhelm you. Dental school is marathon, not a sprint.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school?
My favorite thing about second year has been getting to treat our first denture patients. We don’t get to spend much time in clinic as a D1 and only have a few chances to go as a D2, so getting the time and experience in clinic has been awesome. The chance to give someone a new smile is amazing. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in dental school so far?
Don’t let one bad grade/day/week beat you down. You’re going to go through some rough patches, but I can promise you that you’re not the only one it will happen to. It’s not the end of the world when you fail a test or practical — that’s what practice is for. Find something that you enjoy doing to help take your mind off of the negatives, or cry it out if that’s your thing, but it’s not going to be the end of your career. Success involves effort and overcoming setbacks you encounter along the way.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Anywhere in Europe, because it is so different from where I live. It’s refreshing to take in a different culture and experience new things and places. I love meeting new people, so it’s fun interacting with others and learning about their lifestyle.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Hunting snakes in the Everglades. I took an invasive species course in Miami, and one of our projects was to go explore the Everglades and look for pythons. Most people don’t think of snakes as being invasive, but when they get too large for owners, they set them loose and can have a huge impact on the native wildlife. We ended up finding an 8-foot African Rock Python that we pulled out and carried back to the road to hand off to the wildlife commission. Such a rush!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To accept criticism as a positive thing and learn from it. This has allowed me to become a better person and be more successful at what I do.

What are you looking forward to most after graduation?
Life outside of dental school and being able to incorporate my passion for dentistry into my daily life. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve my community and loved ones.