What inspired you to become a dentist?
I was a “Big” for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and had the opportunity to be a mentor to a little kid whose silver teeth kept him from interacting with other children and from smiling. During my time there, the little one had their silver caps replaced by tooth-colored restorations, and it was like their attitude and personality did a 180-degree — all because of a new smile. It was then that I realized that dentistry was for me, and it is that impact that keeps me going!
Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…
That burnout is a real thing. You cannot do school 24/7. Finding time for your faith activities, hobbies, relationships, etc., helps you put things into perspective. I started waking up a little earlier during the week to give me a few more hours in the day so that once I returned home, I could have more time for extracurricular activities.
What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school?
My favorite thing about third year has been getting to know who I am as a clinician. This year is pushing a lot of us out of our comfort zones and is forcing us to figure out how to interact and manage a variety of patients and the personalities that come with them. I also enjoy applying what I’ve been studying for the past two years to patient care and getting to see some pretty remarkable results.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in dental school so far?
Do not compare yourself to others. I am privileged to be among some of the smartest and most talented people, and that has pushed me to become a better student. However, never think that you’re inadequate when someone scores higher or finishes faster than you. Their life experiences and talents have gotten them to where they are, just as yours have gotten you to where you are. As cliché as it may sound, just do your best and don’t let pride stand in your way of asking others for help.
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why?
I spent a couple weeks in Belize doing mission work, and while there, I was able to do some sightseeing and touristy stuff. They had some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches as well as some of the best conch ceviche — 10/10 for sure!
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
While in Belize, some of the men I was with decided to hike to the back of cave that supposedly had a huge waterfall at the end of it. Due to the torrential rainfall the day before, the hike became a mile-long swim upstream to the back of this cave. Being the youngest one there, I couldn’t let the older guys outdo me, so of course I tagged along. The current was strong, the rocks were slick and sometimes the only break I got was when I could stick the tip of my finger into a crevice just long enough for me to catch a quick breath for fear of being left behind. I stuck with it and finally made it to the waterfall at the back of the cave, which was awe-inspiring to say the least. When we got back to the mouth of the cave, it was revealed that the “older” guys I tagged along with had recently completed the Ironman Triathlon, so it was no surprise that it was a walk in the park for them! I, on the other hand, was just thankful to have survived.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Right before starting dental school, an experienced dentist told me, “Work hard and don’t close any windows of opportunity yourself. You never know what they future may hold.” He continued to tell me that during his first three years of school, he did just what he needed to get by. By his fourth year, he realized that he wasted a lot of time, and he had shut a lot of potential windows of opportunity to specialize and enhance his resume while in dental school.
What are you looking forward to most after graduation?
We can only learn so much in four years of dental school (I even heard one podcaster refer to it as “dental kindergarten”). There are certain topics that I have become interested in, but there is just not enough time in dental school to extrapolate on. So, I’m excited to have the time and opportunity to selectively explore some of these ideas through additional courses and CE to help make me the best dentist for my community.