DAT Study Tips

Since a large portion of my blog focuses on my journey of becoming a dentist with the next step being dental school admission, I thought I’d share with any other fellow pre-dent readers out there how I went about tackling this daunting exam this past summer.  Several of these tips could also apply to MCAT, GRE, LSAT, etc. The cool part about these kinds of tests is that unlike the SAT or ACT, this is something you know is a crucial stepping stone on the way to achieving your specific professional ambitions.  Also, while those tests are important for scholarship purposes, chances are you didn’t really enjoy going in on those early Saturday mornings as a high school senior, and you probably didn’t study a fraction of the time required for tests like the DAT or MCAT. You can see how badly you really want to be a doctor, lawyer, etc. by the amount of motivation and focus you have on doing well since it’s such a crucial aspect of your applicant profile. I’m a big believer in visualizing success, so if you can see yourself doing well on the test, the next thing you should realistically dream about is being a successful student at your top choice school because of those killer scores.

I know winter break is a popular time to devote time to studying for the DAT as well as early summer (I promise the earlier the better – I can’t express how relieved I am knowing I won’t have to stress about it on top of applications this summer).  Warning: this is a long post, but I go into great detail on exactly what I bought, how I went about it all, and general test-taking tips for success.  I wanted to do this because as I was trying to figure out how exactly I should study for the DAT, I read countless blogs, student doctor network (take everything on there with a grain of salt…), and asked all my upperclassmen friends about their experience. I want to pass on my advice to help others get the scores they want and let people know that anything is possible with a lot of sacrificing (like having a very lackluster summer) and hard work.  Everyone is a different and comes from varying backgrounds, so obviously not everything I did will be perfect for you.  Take what you want, leave what you don’t.

TIME: I started studying July 1st and took the test Aug 29th (with a couple days off and a 5 day vacation with only very light studying about 2 weeks before I took it). I was also taking 6 hours of summer school in July that required a lot of time reading and writing, working a little as well as interning with an oral surgeon on Fridays, so I only averaged probably around 3-4 hours/weekdays and maybe around 5-7 hours/day on the weekends. The first 3ish weeks were strictly reading/taking notes/reviewing mostly science material.  I then started to go through the Destroyer and took a full-length practice test every Saturday (6 total I think including a free Kaplan event). Take breaks about every hour when studying, or you’ll lose focus and energy.  Make time for regular exercise, and occasional (but probably not as much as usual) social time.  I would usually go out for dinner with a friend maybe once on the weekends.  Pretty much no TV, but I still managed to have time for short, periodical breaks for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogging.

WHAT/HOW: Prep materials I bought and how I used them:

**I did not buy a Kaplan course**

  1. Cliffs AP Bio 3rd Edition. This was the first thing I went through.  I read every chapter and took my own notes in a spiral as I went through it.  It covers a ton of info you’ll see on the test.  There are some topics that go into more detail than you probably need, but other than that, I think this was a great place to start for bio review. I finished this in about a week while I was waiting for my other materials to arrive in the mail.  I also bought the corresponding flashcards that were detailed and thorough, but I didn’t really have time to use these as much as I thought I would.
  2. Kaplan Review Notes Book. I did 2-3 chapters of each science subject and 1 section of QR every day, the same way – writing my own notes along the way in 1 big spiral with divided sections for each subject.  Answer the review questions at the end of each chapter for a quick recap. You’ll finish this math review in a few days because it’s pretty short and broad and doesn’t cover all the types of problems you’ll see.  I didn’t use this reading section at all. To complete the science review I spent about 2 weeks on this.  Go slow enough that you understand your weak areas, but don’t get bogged down here at the beginning on every tiny detail – you’ll have plenty of time to work problems and see what you’re missing to come back and review.  I took maybe 3 days before starting to work problems after I was done writing notes to actually study/highlight/add memorization hints to those notes.
  3. Kaplan Lesson Book. I only used the PAT section that’s very short and basic – more for understanding the rules of each section.
  4. DAT Destroyer (2012). THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE.  After my initial review of all subjects/topics, I started working through this bad boy.  I didn’t start timing myself at first, and I would even say don’t worry about timing at all on the Destroyer.  It’s tough.  The questions for the most part require more time and higher level thinking/calculations than actual DAT questions. Your confidence might get a little “destroyed” along the way (my first time through I probably was averaging 40-70%, but the second time through I improved to 80-100%). I divided each subject into sections of however many problems that subject has on the real DAT (40 bio, 30 GC, 30 OC), except for math (I usually only did 20 at a time instead of 40).  I would try to answer 1 “section” of each subject every day, marking ANY answer I was not 100% confident on (it was always a lot, I promise) in my separate spiral that I would write my answer choices on.  Then ****super important**** I would “grade” each section and go over every solution that I got wrong AS WELL AS any question that I might have gotten right, but was not exactly sure or confident in my answer.  The solutions go into really good detail about why the answer is right as well as cover each wrong answer choice.  I wrote all these solutions down in that spiral and periodically looked over them to understand why I missed it.   It took me about 3 weeks to complete this process once.  I then took about a 3 or 4 day break from working problems to thoroughly study all those questions/solutions that I was unsure of or had missed the first time.  When I got back from my short trip the middle of August, I was no longer in summer classes, so I had much more time to study. In about a week (the week before my test week) I did the exact same thing a second time, but much more condensed/longer days – about 3 “sections” of each subject a day.  I really only took breaks to eat, workout, and sleep – sad I know, but we’re talking about our future careers here.  I still went back and checked the ones I missed and wrote those solutions down again.  You WILL see several questions (or at least the main idea behind those questions) that you’ve seen in the Destroyer on your DAT.
  5. DAT Achiever Full Length Practice Tests.  $100 for 5 complete tests ($140 I think for 7). Warning: these are very difficult.  I really think because these kicked my butt so bad, that it made me not slack off in my studies and pushed me to master the harder stuff so come test day, the real DAT felt like high school TAKS test (comparatively – might be a slight exaggeration). I took one of these each Saturday morning after I had finished my initial reviewing, so starting around the end of month 1 of studying.  I will go ahead and tell you my AA averaged between 16-18 on these, PAT 16-19, and TS 16-20 (so don’t take these to heart and get discouraged like I sometimes did).  Most things I’ve read people tend to average at least 3-4 points higher (and often times more like in my case) on the real DAT.  I did the same thing as the Destroyer questions as far as going back over the test and writing all the solutions (they give pretty good explanations too) to the tricky ones and the ones I missed in an additional spiral.  Again, I occasionally would flip through this spiral to brush up on weak topics.  I’d say it’s safe to say that compared to the real test, ALL sections of Achiever are significantly harder.The biology has several questions with the A/B/C/A and B/A and C/All of the above format, and I don’t think I had hardly any asked like that on the DAT.  Several of the detailed concepts showed up on my test, though.The GC involves way more calculations than the real test, so if you can work through these, you’ll fly through the chem section on test day since it’s much heavier on conceptual questions (or maybe just setting up the equation to calculate).The OC really calls attention to the reagents you might need to brush up on that aren’t some of the more popular reactions.

    The RC uses a lot longer passages (15-20 paragraphs vs 10-12), so if you can try to get down your timing and strategies for this section, the RC on the DAT will be very simple.  I would say out of 50 questions, less than 10 required slightly more than simply finding that exact phrase in the passage with the answer.

    The PAT section is hard on Achiever.  I struggled on timing for this due to some complicated shapes, tough hole-punching, and weird T/F/E, but on the real PAT I still had time to go back over ones I marked.  I would say my actual PAT difficulty was only a little easier (pretty close to Crack the DAT PAT).  It just takes lots of practice and seeing what strategies work for you.  For the hole-punching I drew 4×4 grids on my paper, but other than that I don’t have any secret strategies that are guaranteed to help.  I didn’t do the tally method for cubes like Kaplan suggests.

    On the QR, I NEVER could actually finish this section.  I always had to guess on about 5-7 that I skipped or marked.  On the real DAT, I had about 15 minutes left after going through the questions once to go back to the few I marked and was able to figure out for the most part.  The trig and probability questions are way harder than the real DAT.  I was asked I think 1 or 2 trig questions on test day.  The types of algebra and geometry problems are representative of what you’ll see, but they just took a lot longer.

  6. Crack the DAT PAT. I bought the 5 test version ($100 I think).  I think this is good extra practice for the PAT, but I would say it might be just slightly easier than the real PAT.  Kaplan PAT is too easy. Use these towards the end (or just rework as test day approaches) to stay up on your game and know which sections you’re slower on so on test day you can make sure you spend your time wisely.  I think I scored 19-23 on these, improving each time.
  7. DAT Bootcamp Online. They had 1 set of free subject tests (what I did) and you can also upgrade for I think up to 5 tests.  I did this my last week because I needed a confidence booster after dwelling on my low Achiever scores.  These are very representative of the difficulty level of what you’ll most likely see on test day.  My estimated scores for each section (22-24) on these were much closer to my actual scores but I still was able to improve in most areas.

FINAL WEEK

  1. Make sure you sleep enough, eat healthy, and get some kind of exercise the last few days before your test. Your brain will thank you.
  2. Drive to your test center and ask any questions you have to clear things up before your actual day.
  3. Don’t work too many problems. Spend the last few days lightly reviewing all your outlined notes (focusing on areas you have a hard time remembering), solutions notebooks, or important equations.
  4. Don’t feel bad asking people to pray for you, be thinking about you, or just send some encouragement your way.  This made a HUGE difference in my mindset the last week knowing all the people in my life who were rooting for me to do well.

TEST DAY

  1. Go to bed as early as you can (but still somewhat close to your normal schedule so you don’t toss and turn) and shoot for 7-9 hours.
  2. Wake up PLENTY early so you’re not rushed.
  3. Eat a good but not too heavy breakfast. Drink some water and coffee (if you usually do). Bring snacks and water for the break.
  4. Get there 30 minutes early.
  5. On my 2 sheets of laminated paper for scratch work, I used the 15 minute tutorial to set up my PAT hole-punch grids, any chemistry equation I could think of, and random bio facts I had a hard time remembering just in case.  Then later before my halfway 15 minute break finished, I used the last few minutes to write any geometry or trig formula.
  6. On your break, try to really relax, walk around/stretch, eat a carb snack (for fresh glucose to that brain! I had a granola bar, apple, water), and be happy you’re finished with the hardest part (at least I think)!
  7. GO CELEBRATE YOUR AWESOME SCORES WHEN YOU FINISH!!!

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God of the Impossible – DAT Edition

I’m still finding myself in disbelief that I’m actually on the other side of the pivotal thing that had seemed so far off in the future for basically the last two years. The Dental Admission Test is DONE! Wow. That’s pretty much my only thought right now.  I initially couldn’t define my emotions about it when people asked how I felt because I was simultaneously experiencing every emotion possible.  Elation, disbelief, relief, joy, shock, you name it.  After two months (and ultimately two years of working my tail off in my freshman and sophomore classes) of sacrificing free or social time for most of the summer in order to focus on my studying, the test that determines my future is finally behind me!

I am literally BLOWN AWAY by God’s favor in my life.  My results were nothing short of a miracle.  Yes, I did put in COUNTLESS hours of studying my entire college science curriculum, taking full length and notoriously difficult DAT Achiever practice tests, working through the DAT Destroyer book of problems (that actually “destroys” your confidence in the process) two times, and trying to perfect my strategies and timing for the Perceptual Ability portion of the test that can basically be described as thinking and visualizing entirely in 3-D given ambiguous 2-D information (but to be honest, you either have the aptitude for it or not). Apparently this has something to do with teeth and indirect vision, but I’m pretty sure that will be an entirely new challenge to face that will resemble nothing of a test about pattern folds, hole-punching, angle-ranking, cube counting, and keyholes.  Let me start my saying that all my averages for my prep material I used were significantly lower than my actual scores on test day.  Yes, the real thing was for the most part MUCH simpler/conceptual/broad/straight-forward than my difficult prep material I used that kicked my butt.  That being said, my scores I received would simply have not have been possible without God right there beside me, giving me peace of mind, recall of all my studies, and confidence to do better than I ever thought possible.  Also, I had an incredible support system all around me of my amazing family, friends, fellow pre-dental classmates, and mentors – all lifting me up in prayer on Thursday.

Taking the test and finding out my results was one of the most surreal and out-of-body experiences.  It didn’t even really hit me until I got back in my car to leave the testing center, and looked at the printout one more time before commencing to text everyone in my life that was rooting for me (and they all went above and beyond to support, encourage, and celebrate with me).  It was actually MY name and information at the top.  These were MY results that would be sent across the country to dental schools of all caliber.  “Prestigious” and out-of-state schools that were once some far-off unrealistic option now seemed completely tangible.  My first thought that entered my mind after the initial praising God for ALWAYS being so faithful to keep His promises to me and proving to me that He really has called me to be a dentist was “I can get into any school of my dreams.” I really, really don’t at all want to come across as arrogant as I write this, but being completely honest, this statement is pretty accurate.  Given the unbelievable percentiles that I saw on that little unassuming sheet of paper, I felt as if an entirely new world was at my fingertips.  The Lord knew my heart and my desires to dream big and shoot for a chance to get accepted into some competitive schools that I have been researching as possible options if I decide not to stay in Texas forever.

I could write for days about my feelings about all this right now, but I just wanted to write a quick snapshot of how all this unfolded.  Thanks to everyone in my life that has believed in my success and has covered me with genuine love and support.  Here’s to an incredible next two years of college that I anticipate to be a LOT less stressful after this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I can’t wait to see where all this will take me in my journey and how God will use me as a dental professional!

You open horizons in my life
Of limitless
And cloudless hope

You defy the gravity in me
And give wings to
My flightlessness

Christ has set me free
From negativity
From impossibility

Christ has set me free
All hope has been released
O Christ has set me free

(from Rend Collective Experiment’s “Christ Has Set Me Free”)

Oh, and I love how I posted that Habakkuk verse on my post a few days ago, and it could not be more perfect for summing this all up.

Confessions of a Distracted Blogger

I just wanted to give a quick update on all the exciting, hectic, nerve-racking, stress-inducing, beautiful chaos happening in my life right now (hence the lack of new posts). I’ll make this short because tomorrow is a little thing I like to call “First day of school! First day of school!” I’ve been in study mode all summer so it shouldn’t be a problem to just keep on keeping on.  What I’ve been up to the past couple weeks that has kept me a little too busy to explore new recipes and has sadly left this blog a little neglected:

  • Miraculously rocked my summer school finals (no more foreign language or English classes!!!)
  • Explored the incredible city of Seattle for a short mother-daughter trip (Trip review and favorite RESTAURANTS post coming soon)
  • Still currently hitting the last stretch of DAT studying HARD: a.k.a doing the same amount of work in a WEEK I did in my first MONTH of studying.  Countdown is 4 DAYS! Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it right now. Moving on…
  • Catching up with friends I haven’t seen all summer in my loads of free time
  • Braving the crowds and checking out the brand new HEB in town (now the biggest in TX) and spending too much money
  • Training for my new job as a Biology Supplemental Instructor so I can change the world, one little panicked “bio/pre-med” freshman at a time.
  • Meetings with ASDA leadership and trying to get details for the year lined up (guess who wishes she would have had time to work more diligently on that over the summer)
  • Getting organized and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I start my junior year of undergrad tomorrow.

Here’s to another new, challenging, fun, exhausting, rewarding, and EXCITING new chapter!

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All things new – embracing each season

425ca6210f45ba18989eb3c0f97f0dbfThere are some people that are perfectly content with settling into a familiarity of life and going through the motions day in and day out.  I, on the other hand, absolutely love change and the new-ness of things: homes, months, seasons, classes, friends.  Sitting here in my adorable new apartment, endless thoughts fill my mind about everything that is happening now and in the near future.  In the words of Switchfoot, “Life was just happening.”

This summer has certainly been one of transition for me.  It’s been the first summer that I haven’t moved back home for the few months of so-called “freedom” from normal (stressful) college life August to May.  I stayed here to take nine credit hours to finish up my degree’s core (but actually random) requirements, spend some more time exploring the field of dentistry, work a little here and there, and most recently, to decide to take and study for the DAT. My summer has been a complex mixture of emotions, as I’m finding myself at a pivotal season of being smack dab in the middle of my undergraduate years. I’ve had plenty of time to myself to just reflect on my first half here at school and anticipate what in the world the next two years will look like.

boxes boxes boxes

boxes boxes boxes

Love our dining area

Love our dining area

cozy living room

cozy living room

the place I hopefully will spend enough time in

the place I hopefully will spend enough time in

The past couple days were spent boxing, hauling up and down stairs, and unpacking my life from one apartment to another.  I have no idea how it all actually happened because packing has been the last thing on my mind all summer with everything else going on.  Shout out to my amazing parents for helping me so much! I could not have been more excited for the move, though.  I absolutely love my new bedroom (complete with my first non-twin bed ever!), and I already felt completely at home after getting [most] of my things situated, a great night’s sleep, and of course an inaugural cup of coffee sitting at our table my first morning here. My two roommates for the upcoming year(s), Audrey and Chelsea, are encouraging, hilarious, and full of life.  We share a passion for food, decorating (Chels is an interior design major responsible for a majority of our place’s ridiculously cute style), exercising, excelling in our schoolwork, and above all, Jesus.  I know this year will be one of lots of laughs, dinner parties, and supporting each other on this crazy journey.

Another reason my future seems so close and tangible is that I’m studying to take the most important test of my life thus far. Also, I’ve started to really research in-depth the possibilities of dental schools, but I’ll save that for another post. All that to say, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. DAT prep has been anywhere from confidence-boosting to downright discouraging. I feel very up and down as far as how ready I think I am/will be by August 29th (less than a month!). All I can do is depend on God’s grace, and stay strong and motivated to simply do my best.
oral_surgeryMy time I’ve spent shadowing an oral surgeon has been such a blessing.  It’s crazy to think that I just happened to run into and meet him at a local dentist’s office I was shadowing the first week of summer, and now I really feel like we’ve steadily built a great mentor-student relationship that will hopefully last throughout my years of applying and getting into dental school. Every day I go, I learn even more about this potential career route for me, and I always leave with a fresh perspective about why I’m even doing all this in the first place. I’m so thankful God has given me this opportunity and am even a little sad knowing next week will be my last Friday there for now.

In just a few short weeks, the fall semester will be off and rolling ahead at full speed.  Like I said, though, I’m a fan of the new and exciting season of different class schedules and new professors.  I am taking a wide variety of classes this semester for my major (bio) and two minors (business admin, religion) that are sure to be challenging and demanding but still interesting and hopefully enjoyable.  Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Genetics and lab, Cell Physiology/BioChem, and Jesus and the Gospels.  I’m really pumped about that last one because I heard the professor is so great, and who wouldn’t want to read the Bible and learn more about the life of Jesus for a class?

My new job I have as a supplemental instructor for the biology department is something that I honestly haven’t thought about much over the summer, and now that it’s getting closer, I’m excited about it but also a little unsure exactly what all it will entail.  It’s basically like a cross between a teaching assistant and a tutor for the large introductory courses. I know this position will challenge me to expand my leadership abilities, and it will give me a chance to share my passion for science and hopefully have an impact on nervous and overwhelmed college freshmen.

Thinking about my last two years at college is a crazy thing to even fathom.  Who knows what God has planned for me as He continues to grow me into the woman I’m to become?

What will I learn and what grades will I make?

What new friends will I have?

What old friends will drift away?

Will I go on any dates (wherever you are, manly men of God who will purely pursue a girl) or even possibly be in a relationship?

Will I finish my second half marathon?

Will I ace my DAT?

Will I travel to a new exciting place?

It’s natural to wonder about the future, but it can be draining and hindering us on what we could be experiencing in the HERE and NOW. I’m preaching to myself mostly when I say let’s challenge ourselves to sometimes simply BE.

Rejoice in the Suffering (An opportunity, not an obligation)

I want to start off by explaining the lack of blogging for almost two weeks.  In the past I’ve tried to post a couple times a week at least, and I really hate not keeping my new little project consistent and fresh.  I promise I’ll make an effort to catch up a little this week now that I’ve had time to take a breath and re-focus.
Let’s just say I’ve experienced a recent turn of events that made me drastically rearrange my priorities for the moment.  Long story short (and I mean long), I’m now scheduled to take the DAT (Dental Admission Test) August 29th after originally planning on waiting until either January or June to ensure I’d have a free month of no other obligations before the test to devote to all-out studying. However, as usual, God sent me a wake-up call that I’m not in control of every last detail of my life despite my excessive planning and striving to stay on top of all my deadlines and schedules.  His sense of humor is something else because I had explained to a few people that my summer was seeming a bit on the boring side.  I know this is all in His time and not mine, so I’m turning it over to Him and trusting in His crazy awesome (even if sometimes overwhelming) plan for my life.  August turned out to be the only (semi) realistic time I could try to take it because I knew with a full load of upper-level classes, a new demanding job, and an ASDA officer position I could not manage to make time to study during the fall semester for a test that covers three years of undergrad science material.  I’m still taking six hours of summer school starting Wednesday, so finding several hours a day to study for the DAT on top of that for about two months will be a challenge, but I’m more than ready to get this ball rolling as the first step of a long process to get into my choice of dental school (which is just another first step of an even longer process).  This picture pretty much explains my life right now.
IMG_3910 I’ll be sure to update how my studying is going as I trudge through all this massive amount of information and share what God is doing in my life in this time of fully relying on Him for my strength and perseverance.  When I grow weary from writing organic chemistry reactions, memorizing every step of embryonic development, or when I find myself discouraged thinking of how much emphasis this test has on my future, here are some of the verses that always refresh my point of view:
1 Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Romans 5:3-5
“More than that, we REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Psalm 142:3a
“When my spirit faints within me, You know my way!”
Colossians 1:11
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all ENDURANCE and PATIENCE with JOY.”
Galatians 6:9
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will REAP, if we do not give up.”
Psalm 20:4
“May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.”
Romans 8:28 (AMP)
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”

P.S. Portobello burger recipe will be going up tomorrow, so don’t worry – I’ll still make time to eat good and share!

So Why Dentistry?

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.

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