I thought I’d take a break from my usual food-related post and talk a little bit about my academic ambitions and why I’m actually going to school. As much as I love food, cooking, fitness and nutrition, these are simply my hobbies. People often ask me why I don’t just become a chef and open up a restaurant or something along those lines. My answer is that I believe God has called me to use my unique talents, strengths, and aptitudes for something different that will impact peoples’ lives in a powerful way.
I’ve always pushed myself in my studies ever since I stepped foot in a classroom. School is my thing. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I strive to harness that competitive energy by letting it fuel my passion for excellence. God has guided me every step of my journey and opened so many doors for me in terms of my educational opportunities and academic success. Since about the time I started high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field so I would always be challenged to use my problem-solving skills, work with my hands, help people live healthier lives, and show God’s love by being His hands and feet. Science had always intrigued me and been one of my best subjects, and I knew I had the determination that it would take to reach my goals.
At first I thought about the field of surgical medicine. The constant excitement and thrill it would provide as well as the immeasurable reward of knowing I had saved a life sounded awesome to me. After a lot of time to think and pray about it, though, I decided it wasn’t the route for me. I knew I did not want to be a slave to my career with no time to spend with my future family or for vacations and travel. God had made it so obvious in my mind what I should do with my life.
My personal experience with dentistry started when I found out at a very young age that I had two missing adult teeth (very near the front of course). It was a genetic condition, and my sister had had the exact same thing. I’d never known how important a “normal” and beautiful smile is until I realized that I would not have the luxury of seeing every baby tooth lost predictably replaced by nice permanent teeth. As a girl, of course I can’t help but place emphasis on the way I feel when I look in a mirror, so I was pretty devastated.
Long story short, I went to the orthodontist for several years, and we patiently waited for me to lose all my baby teeth and finally I had to get the last pesky seven pulled so the process of braces could get rolling (by this time most of my friends had already been in or finished their orthodontic work). To replace my missing teeth, I eventually had dental implants a.k.a. metal screws that act as man-made roots in my jawbone to anchor permanent crowns after some bone grafting (cool story – I had a small amount of “bovine” bone mixed with synthetic and my own bone from another part of my jaw put in). After years of gaps, closed lip smiling, temporary plastic teeth held in place with braces brackets, and that one time I accidentally swallowed my temporary during marching band practice (yep, not kidding), I finally had a complete and gorgeous row of pearly whites that I couldn’t help but show off. I’ve always been a confident girl, but the dental work of my dentist, orthodontist, and oral surgeon gave me a newfound freedom to fully be my expressive self and not be embarrassed of my teeth. I am passionate about the chance to give other people that same feeling and life changing experience through a career as a dentist or possibly an oral surgeon.
Everything started to just click and come together that this is what I was supposed to do. I’ve always been pretty split down the middle with a scientific and analytical mind but also have a creative and artistic side, so dentistry is a perfect fit: the gratification of seeing work finished, getting to interact with different people every day, using my motor skills and attention to detail, and diagnosing and preventing future problems all are important aspects of the career. I also love to relate dentistry to cooking in the fact that it’s equal parts science and art.
I am beyond excited but of course a little nervous for what my future holds, and I know it will not be easy by any means. What I do know is that God has an incredible plan for me and will use my career to impact people for His kingdom. This next year of undergrad will be the busiest yet with maintaining my GPA with upper-level classes, studying for the DAT next spring, serving on the officer team of ASDA (pre-dent organization), starting a new job as a Biology supplemental instructor, and working on dental school applications. In the meantime, I will try to occasionally update and post about my journey to dental school to share my successes, trials, and advice along the way.