“Crushed it.” – How to rock The Interview

terrifyingI cannot believe it’s almost been almost a YEAR since I started my interviewing journey for dental school applications. I still remember my first one was to San Antonio on August 10th (with my former roommate – who also aced her interviews and was accepted to all 3 TX schools!), and now this year on that same date I’m loading up a UHaul truck and heading off on my road trip to move to my far-away new home – to actually be a student! I promise time really does fly, and to all of you pre-dentals (and pre-meds! a lot of this will be similar to your interviews) who will be awaiting those glorious emails and phone calls this fall, take heart. You definitely could be in my shoes starting dental school and seeing all of your hard work in college finally come to fruition in one year’s time! This is an entirely different nerve-racking experience (how will I go grocery shopping in the city without a car?), but the best kind.

dentalSince a lot of my younger friends are going to be going through that entirely new and sometimes overwhelming process very soon (so proud!), I thought I’d put together a little list of do’s and don’ts from my experience and provide some general outline of what to expect. “How do I just talk about myself for an hour?”

I was very fortunate to have been invited to interview at five dental schools, all with very different interview day styles and atmospheres (click here to check out some of my initial thoughts about each school), so I do feel like I have a good idea of the spectrum of things to expect. I will not say I actually aced every single one of them by any means, and I definitely have some funny stories of my adventures (like waking up about 40 minutes before I needed to be AT the school – and still had to catch a cab in the city – and it rained ALL day – and they only really asked me if I had grown up on a farm – and somehow that’s where I’m going. HA!), but somehow they all liked me enough to offer me a seat in their class! The bottom line – and I know you’ll hear this from anyone – is to really BE YOURSELF. Admissions people do not want a rehearsed robot, someone overly cocky (or someone under-confident for that matter), and they don’t want you to be uber nervous like you might fear you’ll be. Relax, have FUN, and just have a normal conversation with your interviewers.

Here’s a breakdown on some of the things I did (or wish I did better) and things I tried to avoid.

  • Dress to impress (but not distract). Buy a nice suit and rock it. Girls, knee length pencil skirt and pants are both equally great. Not too flashy or low of a top (but you can still show a little personality with color or a subtle pattern). Closed-toe pumped are great, just keep in mind you will be walking A LOT on the tour of the school and throughout the day, so break those babies in. Guys – I can’t really help you as much, but just be on the conservative side, and make sure it’s ironed. I’d say stick to black or navy. Bring some kind of file folder/portfolio to collect papers or contact info they hand out and have paper to take notes on throughout the day and write down your questions for them. I had a slim, professional-looking, off-white leather shoulder bag that was the perfect size for my folder and minimal things I might need – phone, chapstick, makeup, bandaids in case of blisters, mints, floss for after lunch (this is a dental school interview after all), a mini water bottle.
  • Fix your hair/accessories in whatever way that will bother/distract you least. Keep jewelry to a minimum. If you typically wear glasses, don’t all of a sudden decide to wear your contacts. Or if you never wear glasses, don’t buy fake ones to look smarter. Please. I am normally about 60/40 glasses/contacts, so some interviews I wore my glasses and some I didn’t.. Girls, for hair I’d advise just something that keeps the front out of your face. I curled mine and wore it half up for some, low pony for some, and maybe just my front layers pinned to the side for one.
  • Get there earlier than you think you need to. Period. Always allow time for traffic/parking/walking/finding where you are actually supposed to be in the building. (Houston traffic = from Satan). You do NOT want to be late. This is kind of important.
  • Eat a good breakfast! Drink coffee if you normally do, but don’t overdo it (frequent bathroom breaks and the shakes are just inconvenient in a time like this). You know they always tell you that for standardized testing, finals, etc. Well this interview is the whole reason you had to take all of those standardized tests (aka MORE crucial to fuel up). You don’t want your stomach to speak louder than your confidence.
  • Be friendly towards your fellow interviewees. Getting to know everyone was one of my favorite parts of interview days! I guess I’m an extrovert from Texas, what can I say? It’s fun to see where everyone’s from, what dreadful undergrad exams they’re skipping to be there that day (or “Woah they’re married and have kids?”), and just to automatically have a lot in common with these folks that also are weird (I mean smart, compassionate, and driven) enough to want to be tooth docs, too. I remember at my Penn interview where we had a sheet of who everyone was and where they were from, a guy said, “Oh who’s from Baylor? That’s awesome!” Thank you, football, for that one. I also loved seeing some familiar faces that I’d shared interview days with at other schools and insisted we all add each other on Facebook to see where we would end up.
  • Know AS MUCH as you can about each school BEFORE you interview. Research! It’s pretty much a fact that there will be a time in the interview for YOU to ask THEM any questions about the program. Another FANTASTIC time to ask questions is when you’re with the current students maybe on the tour or at lunch. In my opinion, this is when you can find the MOST about a school. I carried a folder in with me with written questions on the inside panel that I wanted to ask each school. Some were the same, but some were specific to that school. Also they definitely might ask you why do you even want to go there? Be ready to schmooze talk em up. Seriously, show that you’ve done your homework. At one of my interviews, the FIRST thing she asked me was “What questions do you have for me?” Nothing about me or my application. We talked about the school and just about life in the city, what I liked about the program, and what her experience had been like on faculty for probably 95% of the interview time.
  • On the same lines, know if the interview will be “open file” or “closed file.” This means some schools’ interviewers will have read your entire application, all your essays, and all your letters of rec before talking to you. Other times, they might only be given your essays or letters of rec (without knowing your GPA, DAT, involvement in organizations). These give two very different scenarios because in an open file interview, it’s usually more about what might not be on your application or asking you to expand on something you wrote. For a closed file, I think it’s more just about your personality and ability to engage in the conversation. They’ll look at your numbers later. Also, some schools you’ll have just one interviewer and other places you might have multiple. The curveball I got thrown at Columbia was that it’s a one-on-one interview, but you’re all in one big room with your respective interviewers, so it kind of has a restaurant atmosphere of other people’s conversations. They did definitely have the best food, hands down. They treated us like royalty, and make it hard to turn down. Don’t choose your school based on the catered meal, though. There are more pressing issues.
  • Realize that your interviewers are real people, and oftentimes, actually dentists. They understand what we’re going through and maybe why we want to be in the fascinating field (and that they’ll all say is the best job in the world). They also probably have some things in common with you. I’m not kidding when I say that the vast majority of my interviewers were extremely friendly and easy to talk to. After the first 30 seconds, all nerves left! I talked about everything from Baylor football to religion classes/papers to cooking to triathlons to Panama to mission trips to city living to “growing up on a farm.” Some are more structured than others. You might get someone who has an actual list of questions they’re going through, or you might get someone that just wants to talk to you and let the conversation go wherever it will. Be prepared for both.
  • Have a clear, concise, and convincing answer to THE question, “So why do you want to be a dentist?” No-brainer, right? Even though it’s actually hard to exactly articulate sometimes, you need to have some serious thinking time before hand of how you will answer this one. Again, be honest and be yourself! It’s a good idea to have a friend or family member mock interview you with some typical questions you might could expect (Google dental school/med school interview questions and you’ll get plenty of ideas), but just don’t memorize exact answers. Have rough bullet points maybe, but be in the moment and talk naturally.
  • After you leave the interview day (maybe on the plane ride home or a post-interview coffee shop stop), take some time to sit down and maybe write down your raw, initial thoughts on the particular school. What did you love? What did you not like so much? How were the students and faculty? How were the facilities? Do you like the city it’s in (spend some time if you’ve never visited)? How scary are the tuition costs? Does it offer interesting opportunities for what you’re interested in (externships, research, community service, specialty exposure/encouragement, honors programs, etc)? It’s hard to describe, but you will have a clear feeling about each school right then and there before you have too much time to analyze everything months later (and trust me did I ever). Pen+paper+pros+cons are a sure way to get an idea of where you’re at. I truly loved all of my interview days and everyone I met throughout those months, but I still remember texting my mom right after my Penn interview as I was walking around THE quintessential college brochure campus in the cool drizzle struggling with my umbrella. All I said was “Mom. I realllllllllllly like Penn.” Why did I make it more complicated than it was? 😉

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Good luck to all of you, and if you have any more questions about the interview process, I’d be happy to help!

Fearfully made [and why I’m a biology major]

With something like sixty college credit hours of science classes under my belt, I guess I’ve gained my fair share of knowledge about how the world (and everything in it) works. Every single class obviously brings its challenges (gluconeogenesis or sympathetics anyone?), but I couldn’t imagine studying anything else but the intricate and incredible functioning of living things, especially when it comes to the human body. Last semester I took an intense histology course, I’m now in microbiology, and I’m still leading sections as a TA for the upper level human anatomy lab I took last year. I’ve felt a renewed sense of awe with our God the Creator with every lecture and lab session as a science major. I will never understand how so many people make science and faith contradicting aspects of life. I could have a friendly [heated] discussion about that for days with anyone, and I don’t have any personal political or religious agendas – simply infinite wonder rooted in a scientific, finite mind. Sure there are days when I seriously question why I chose to take this narrow, long, and many times uphill road.  There are more days,  though, when the more I study the more my fascination grows. I am certain that I found my passion of what I truly love.

  • The miraculous architecture of the bones of the skull that form foramina allowing vessels and nerves to reach and leave the brain.skull
  • Microscopically perfect arrangements of microtubules to form cilia, giving cells movement and filtration.microtubule
  • The insanely consistent physiology of action potentials and nerve synapses behind every single thought and motion.action potential
  • The unbelievable characteristics and design of bone tissue that make processes like osseointegration possible – which I’ll get to witness every day in my career.implant
  • A perfectly synchronized enzyme orchestra in glycolysis to fuel literally everything our bodies are doing at this very second.gly

I am confident that dental school will bring immensely more of these moments when my brain says “WOW.”

May we never lose our wonder.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

“Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising.”

I’m returning to the blogging world after a month of a holiday hiatus. Isn’t it funny how when I actually had more time to write over Christmas break, I don’t even write one post? Well, this is my insanely brief overview:

Naps on naps. Pinterest. Baking. Shopping. Family time in the country. Guitar. Resting in The Word. Ringing in 2015 with a night out in uptown Dallas. Crying in AT&T stadium at the final score of the Cotton Bowl (my last game as a Baylor student). Feeling 22. Deciding on dental school. Declining other schools. Committing to another school. Receiving the scholarship I’d been praying for for months. Withdrawing previous acceptance and officially committing to being a class of 2019 “Penntist.”

Let’s just say maybe why I didn’t have time to blog was because my mind was highly preoccupied with this obvious roller coaster. I quite possibly have never felt more all over the place in my life than I have in the past 45 days (it was way harder than my up until the last minute college decision). I’ve tried to update on my blog with my specific thoughts occasionally throughout this long, stressful, but exciting process simply because I want to be able to look back and see how God was leading me along the way and to have that same feeling that I have now about going to Baylor for undergrad – that the fact that I ever was torn between schools is actually funny now. So this is mainly for me to read a few years from now maybe as I’m finishing up D4 and being so incredibly grateful for God’s provision and that I made the decision that I did. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know Penn was my dream school where I really saw myself thriving and the stepping stone to reaching my personal and career goals in the future. It is also one of THE most expensive schools in the country. Well, crap. My mom always said I had champagne taste…

After finals were over and I had a chance to hash everything out with my mentor and then my parents when I came home, I had finally come to terms with the financial implications of going to where I had really felt led to go for so long. I was going to Penn, I was going to be in a heck of a lot of debt, but I wasn’t going to regret it.

That night I “decided” I felt so sure that it was the right decision. The following days, though, ALL I could think about was what THAT kind of debt would look like for a chunk of my life, and that I would in fact regret being an Ivy League trained doctor struggling to make everything work financially. It’s really twisted if you think about it. I set Penn to the side for awhile and really tried to imagine myself at Baylor and Houston. Before, I was so torn between the two and just never really had any peace about choosing either. I talked to several friends at both and reached a new decision that UTSD-Houston would be the best fit and so much more realistic than going to Penn without a scholarship. That week was mostly spent trying to convince myself of all the great reasons to go to Houston. It was OK to turn down Penn simply because of the price, a friend reassured me. Of course initially I was disappointed. Everything before just felt like a tease. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat angry at God. Why would I have gone to interviews and been accepted at Columbia and Penn – and felt so strongly drawn to Penn specifically – and then it all just be taken away. I was at the point where I just wished I would’ve never even applied to those schools, and it would’ve been a LOT easier decision if I didn’t get in to either. I tried to “get over” the idea of going to Penn, and every day I honestly was getting more OK with the idea of being in Houston next year. This was, after all, an incredible blessing to even be in this position of getting to choose where to go. I even took a trip down there to visit my friend and planned on looking at Houston housing options. I had lost that hope and expectancy that I felt all throughout December of the chance of still getting a scholarship to Penn.

Then things got thrown upside down that same day I was driving back to Waco from my side road trip to H-town. Earlier when I had told my family about my decision to go to Houston, I explained it as an “unless…” situation. Penn’s deadline wasn’t until the 15th of January, so obviously I was still going to just see if anything happened in that next week or so before the door was officially closed. Like I said though, I was pretty much over it and finding peace in my Houston decision. I had realized maybe a lot of me wanting to go to Penn was my pride and feeling that I “deserved” to go to my top choice after working so hard in college. I had to put away my selfishness and turn all of this back over to God and his plan for me. I was going out to dinner with my friend that night to my favorite pizza joint, and she asked me how I was feeling with the recently changed decision. I explained how I was still a little disappointed that it all came down to financial reasons. It wasn’t my plan A, but plan B is sometimes the best thing that can happen. As I’m saying this, I look at my phone, and I see that it’s the Philadelphia area code that I had been sure to memorize. Oh hi there, plan A. My first thought was they were calling to ask about my decision since I hadn’t sent in my deposit or really updated them on my situation. My other thought was that they were calling and going to offer me the lowest scholarship, still not helping enough for me to be able to change my mind. I knew that if they would’ve ever called and given me the max scholarship that I’d go in a heartbeat. If it ended up being the middle level amount, it would be the most complicated. I would have to seriously think about it and be SURE I would be making the right decision, whatever that was. So of course, guess what happened? Yep, the complicated route. All I could do that night was say WOW WOW WOW it actually happened? And laugh. Lots of laughing at God’s sense of humor and my crazy life as well as thinking how worn out everyone in my life was getting with me talking about all this back and forth nonsense.

At first I was so confused because of the timing and everything from the past couple weeks of me talking myself into Houston and JUST now beginning to get really excited about it. I read back through my prayer journal that night, though, and it was unreal how many times I specifically was yearning for financial provision if Penn was where He was leading me. Several times I also wrote things along the lines of “I know you LOVE to surprise me, so I am trusting it will all be in your perfect timing”,  and “I know you make the impossible possible.” There was also the powerful Sunday at church on trusting God with finances when I went to the front to be prayed for the week before I heard anything about acceptances. After taking the weekend to really keep praying about it and talking to my family and close friends about it who had been with me through the entire dramatic saga, I realized that there was no way that all this happened for me to turn it down and still go to Houston. This Dean’s scholarship was exactly what I had been believing for from the beginning. My creator knows the desires of my heart inside and out before I even ask. I have been so constantly reminded in all this that his dreams for me are far greater than my own. This is only the beginning of a crazy adventure of the next season: my life as a twenty-something Dr-to-be in a major Northeast city where I will be stretched academically, mentally, and spiritually. I am leaving my unbelievable community of friends here (who have been some of my biggest cheerleaders in all this), my family who has never stopped supporting me and my crazy big dreams since day one, “y’all,” Tex-Mex, and a lot more. As scary as all that is, I am beyond pumped for what’s ahead: receiving a dental/medical education like no other, an entirely new city full of ALL kinds of people that I would never have met if I stayed in Texas, learning exactly what I will be doing in my career impacting people’s lives everyday, 119 of the most interesting/fun/smartest people that I will ever know and get to call classmates, actual SEASONS praise the Lord, and meeting my new best friends (or…WHO knows, something more??) for life. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and all that 2015 has in store, I’m coming for ya.

All I wanted for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas

The title quote is one from Shauna Niequist that I even posted on Facebook on New Year’s Eve as an encouragement and hope for all my friends – especially those of us in the middle of major life changes – in 2015 (before all of the crazy twists actually happened).

“Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard. It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we’ve barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and different emotional territories and different ways of living. It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control. Life with God is a dancing dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do. And with the surprises comes great hope.”

Trust me, I’m (going to be) a doctor.

I’m currently seizing every opportunity to stay distracted from studying any more tonight for my last two (cumulative and far-from-easy) finals Monday and Tuesday, and I’ve got just a few things on my mind that I really need to get in writing. Ok, more like 732 things.

Yes, there was Thanksgiving, family time, and food galore.

HOME

HOME

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

There were also never-ending Sic Em’s, a little thing called College Gameday, tears shed at my last Baylor football game, and a depressed, bitter, nonstop Twitter feed about finishing at #5 (but still ahead of TCew).

Best way to end my college football experience

Best way to end my college football experience

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I'll never forget

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I’ll never forget

Started from the top, and oh yeah we're still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Started from the top, and oh yeah we’re still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Johnnyswim rocked around a Waco Hall Christmas on 5th tree, and of course Abner and Amanda serenaded all of Wacotown.

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Finals have once again arrived and invaded the hearts of students, dueling it out with the Christmas spirit and holiday cheer all across campus.

Senioritis is REAL

Senioritis is REAL

The news that beats ALL of that, though, is that on the early morning of December 1st, the culmination of stressful nights studying, hours of shadowing, and countless sacrifices to achieve my academic and career goals came together and Galatians 6:9 became my reality: I’M GOING TO BE A DENTIST and you can call me Dr. in a few short (or long) years! Starting at midnight and throughout the day, I received acceptance offers for a seat in the Class of 2019 at each of the five schools where I interviewed: TAMU/Baylor (Dallas), UTSD (Houston), UTHSCSA (San Antonio), Columbia (NYC), and UPenn (Philly)! I am once again overwhelmed with God’s favor in my life and am beyond grateful for every single person who has supported me as family, friends, professors, and mentors through this journey (that is just really starting).

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And no, I don’t just want to go to Penn because of their brilliantly witty name for themselves…

Being offered one of the few coveted spots out of thousands of applicants was more humbling than I could have ever imagined it would be. They all chose little me from small town East Texas to represent their school and the future of the dental profession. That once-far-off, big dream I had busted it for the last three years for had finally turned into tangible emails, phone calls, and letters.

I’m also incredibly proud of my pre-dental friends and classmates that have been on this journey with me from the beginning. Almost all of the Baylor seniors that applied this cycle got into all three Texas schools and some out of state schools too! If this was like a professional sports draft day, we all swept it first round. Of course we tossed aside our studies (for the worst last exam week of the semester) for the night and went out to toast to our new student dentist status and the fact that we actually know what we’re doing after graduation and are no longer “just biology majors” hoping all that work wasn’t for nothing. Rest assured moms and dads, (one day) we will be financially secure.

Smiling's our favorite :)

Smiling’s our favorite 🙂

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Speaking of finances, if you read my last post you know Penn Dental was my top choice, and I was desperately hoping to receive a substantial scholarship that would make my decision easy. Well, when they called, I was sadly not informed of that. This is not to say that all have been awarded necessarily, and if students that did receive one decline Penn’s offer due to committing to another school or receiving a full-ride military scholarship, those are immediately recycled to be given to other qualified (ahem, PICK ME) students. My heart did sink when I wasn’t one of those lucky first round award recipients. Here I am in this incredible and EXTREMELY fortunate situation of having to pick my school instead of praying for months that ONE picks me. However, now my decision is anything but easy. I have a full 30 days from when I heard for Texas schools (Houston or Baylor, I did go ahead and decline SA) and about 45 days for Penn until I have to inform the school (aka send a deposit check) to secure my golden ticket. That makes things a lot more complicated than I would have hoped due to the timing of things and not wanting to have to put down two deposits potentially to buy more time. My heart is really still set on Penn and I am believing for breakthrough. I also know that complete surrender of my dreams right now is all I can do. I’m praying that I would feel and hear God’s guidance in a fresh and powerful way in the coming days. I know He is the one that has brought me this far and opened door after door for me to walk in this calling on my life to serve people with joy and impact their lives in a very real way.

No matter what happens, this time next year I will be finishing up my first semester as a dental student, and I’m all smiles because of that.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will ACT.” – Psalm 37:4-5

Oh Hey There Winter

Over the past couple of weeks, and especially the last few days, the unpredictable Texas “winter” has definitely made its presence known. When the temperature drops, the [typical college girl] pumpkin cravings rise. I’ve whipped up these pumpkin protein pancakes topped with almond butter (similar to these but pumpkin substituted for the banana) one class-skipping morning and another batch of health-ified pumpkin dark chocolate muffins, perfect to freeze for a week of breakfasts or snacks on-the-go.

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Just so you know, this is a downright delightful combo for a late-night study snack.

Something about the colder weather makes me really cherish my cozy morning quiet time (still in my pjs and fuzzy socks) of reading, worship music, coffee (2 cups if I’m lucky), and filling up physically and spiritually before the noise of the day.

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Slow cozy mornings are my favorite

Changing seasons also means the end of the semester is close and registration time – my LAST time in college at that. Weird. Crazy. Scary. Exciting. Sad. Thrilled. Busy as ever.

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Not the easiest breeze of a senior year they say you’ll have your last semester…

Last weekend I enjoyed a beautiful dinner (my homemade broccoli cheese, her homemade bread, and toasted salami asiago sammies for dunking) and a concert of my absolute favorite on campus a cappella group, VirtuOso. You can’t beat a night of good-for-the-soul food, friends, and ridiculous music.

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Exactly my definition of weekend

This past week I successfully managed to pull off my histology lab case study presentation, an ameloblastoma. Finally I get to talk about things like teeth development and abnormal oral histology, and considering I’m actually going to school forever to focus on this tiny region of the body, that makes studying it enjoyable.

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50 Shades of Grey aka dental radiology

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Yeah, that’s definitely not normal

Despite the crazy low temps for this time of year, Baylor ASDA ladies suited up ready for our last flag football game of the season and ended with another win (and yes, a forfeit by the other team does in fact still count as a W in my book). I’m not sure when I’ll get another chance to play quarterback and channel my inner Bryce Petty, but I’m hoping dental school intramurals/olympics?

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Let’s at least celebrate no broken fingers needing surgery this year!

Friday night we celebrated my lovely roommate Chelsea’s 22nd birthday a couple days early. I was pretty proud of my gift-giving this year. I knew she loved author/blogger Donald Miller, so I got her his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. She’s also a big fan of theologian Henri Nouwen, so I found an anthology of sorts drawing from his major works. I topped it off with a bottle of her favorite Cabernet brand, and we had a fun dinner out with the girls – complete with watching Bridesmaids, red wine, and red velvet cake balls back at The Roost (our self-titled apartment) afterwards.

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Her appropriate Insta quote of our favorite movie: “This is such a stone-cold pack of weirdos and I am so proud!”

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We do glamour photo shoots so well

While shopping for her gifts at Barnes and Noble, I snagged this classic illustrated volume beauty on sale for a whopping $7.98! This was THE medical/anatomy teaching text for med students starting in the mid-1800s, and I was thoroughly geeking out about owning this beautiful piece of art and medical history. This Gray came way before Meredith and McDreamy.

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It’s so beautiful and will have a place on my future doctor bookshelf forever.

A SHORT TWO WEEKS UNTIL I MIGHT FIND OUT WHAT MY LIFE WILL LOOK LIKE FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS. What are my thoughts since my last post about the overwhelming world of dental school decisions? Basically, I am praying HARD for a Dean’s scholarship to Penn, and if I receive one that lovely December 1st day, I could not turn it down. There, I said it. Penn Dental is now my “#1,” folks. If God closes that door, then I’d be more than happy to attend Baylor College of Dentistry (only a few points ahead of UTSD Houston at the moment).

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All you need is…[a scholarship]

 One last tidbit of blog-worthy news. Tomorrow, my friends, I will yet again get to witness a night of pure musicianship with my bros Switchfoot. It’s crazy thinking that about this time last year, I saw them at Baylor and wrote about Jon reading my tweet on stage. Call me lame, but I’m preparing myself for if I cry tomorrow night. Not only because their music recalls to mind so many vivid memories throughout my entire life, but mix that with the ball of emotions that is college senior year and it’s bound to happen. Oh, and just because Baylor and Waco are awesome and bring phenomenal music to this city, Gungor is also coming along to play part of the show. Talk about a REAL music lover’s paradise…

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Forever fan-girling

Well that’s it for my catchup from lack of blogging the past two weeks. I’ve got to return to physics, my perfect Mocha, and a cozy night at Dichotomy.

The soundtrack to my college studies

If you know me at all, you know music is a huge part of my life that I could never go without. I’ve written about life-changing concerts, my family’s strong musical roots, my love for singing, and picking acoustic guitar back up this summer. Music is often how I connect with others (if I find out we have common tastes, I can talk to you for hours with unlimited suggestions to check out), deal with certain emotions/situations,  and “when words fail, music speaks.” Ever since the gloriousness that is Spotify came around, discovering new music and finding incredible playlists is basically how I survive the little thing called studying. My friends and I are constantly sharing the latest up and coming band with each other. Two concerts I’ve been to this year (and one next month) have been for artists I just happened upon on Spotify or through word of mouth, listen to on repeat for weeks, see their tour dates, and spontaneously plan a trip to see them. Whether I’m up to my eyeballs with histology notes, cranking out a five or ten page religion paper the night before it’s due (which definitely happened last week for the first time in my college career), or trying to stay awake studying for my mundane business class exams, the music I listen to when I study has played a crucial role in my life as a college student.

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

If I leave for Common Grounds, Dichotomy, Lula Jane’s, the library, or BSB without headphones and a fully charged computer, studying is a lost cause. I literally can’t study in silence. The loud chatter of sorority girls or stressed freshman isn’t exactly music to my ears, either. Side note to Mom and Dad, Beats or Bose for Christmas??? After all, I would use them all throughout the dental school years.

I’ve recently been hooked on Spotify’s “Indie Folk for Focus” instrumental playlist, but I actually just made a new one called “Study Sounds” tonight. It’s currently sitting at about 29 hours of nonstop songs: more than enough to fuel a full couple of nights hitting the books (or Powerpoint printouts and colored pens – I haven’t cracked open a textbook since I don’t know when). What’s on this A+ mix?

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don't happen without some serious study tunes

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don’t happen without some serious study tunes

Andrew Belle, Colony House, Johnnyswim, Ivan & Alyosha, John Mark McMillan, The Head and the Heart, Sarah Jarosz, Nickel Creek, Jon Foreman, Fiction Family, The Oh Hello’s, Knox Hamilton, Fleet Foxes, Penny and Sparrow, Jon McLaughlin, Ben Rector, Vampire Weekend, Jillian Edwards, Andy Davis

If any of your study playlists or iTunes in general are in a rut, I hope you’ll check some of these artists out. They won’t disappoint.

In other news, tomorrow marks 5 weeks until the first round of acceptances! It’s also when my motivation for this last year’s classes/GPA will probably take yet another hit for the worse. My pre-dent friends and I are already anticipating the big night out [*hopefully*] celebrating years of blood, sweat, and tears to get that coveted letter or phone call. For now I guess I’ve got to get back to those studies for yet another multiple test week…

“So what’s your #1?” and why it’s OK I don’t have an answer

People are still so shocked when they hear me simply say, “I don’t have one” after they ask me that question about my fast -approaching decision of where I really want to go for school next fall. I understand they are doing the polite thing by being interested in my future and what I’ve been working towards all of my college career. I’m still tired of having to explain how I don’t have a first preference or that I really do not know where I want to go RIGHT NOW. If you asked me where I want to live in ten years or who I want to marry, would you also expect a well articulated detailed answer with confidence? It’s impossible. I only know who holds the future, and that is enough.

I realize this is an incredibly good “problem” to have, and I am not at all trying to sound like I’m stressed out about it. At the same time, having so many options is not always the best for someone as indecisive (when it comes to major life decisions aka college, major, etc) as me. I’ve always been one to heavily weigh each pro and con of pretty much everything. I didn’t commit to a university until May of my senior year of high school when I ultimately chose to go where everyone in my life knew I probably would. I guess I relish the drama and like to keep people guessing.

Since I wrote about my first UTHSC – San Antonio interview on here, I’ve traveled close to home (Dallas and Houston) and to an all together new world of the Northeast (Philly and NYC) to a total of four other schools: Texas A&M/Baylor College of Dentistry, UT School of Dentistry – Houston, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Wow.

“Take a step of faith when God gives you a vision because you trust that the One who gave you the vision is going to make provision. And for the record, if the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.”

It was such a season of waiting and anticipation those few months of constantly checking my inbox or SDN notifications (yep I’m one of those nerds), and I couldn’t help but jump up and down or do my happy dance with each new invitation. I am so grateful that God opened all these doors for me, and I can’t help but praise and give him the glory throughout all of this. Just to be offered interviews at those schools was a huge dose of affirmation that all of my years of hard work and passionate commitment to my future vocation were worth it and that I truly am walking in God’s calling on my life. If you would have asked me in my little small town Atlanta, TX high school (when I did start considering a medical career – first medical school, later dental) if I saw myself even going to interview at an Ivy League grad school, I probably wouldn’t have even known which schools you were talking about. Now all of these big scary decisions are in front of me that lead to four (I can pretty much rule out San Antonio at this point personally for various reasons even though it is an excellent school!) very tangible and realistic lives I could have for the next four years or even more depending on residency possibilities.

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”

Everyone that I’ve talked to that’s already in school somewhere seems to have the same kind of answer when I ask how they ended up choosing that school (if they had that wonderful problem that I’m hoping to have which is multiple acceptances). They all say something along the lines of just having a certain feeling at the end of their interview day that it was somewhere they could thrive, be surrounded by supportive classmates and faculty, find their specific niche through opportunities that the school offers, and ultimately a place to call home for the next season of life (we’re talking most of the 20s.) Well, I felt that at every school. Seriously.

My roommates, friends, and family like to guess which school I really will probably end up at, but I promise them I don’t know any more than they do. Most people don’t understand how complicated this decision is and that it’s based on so much more than just, “Where do you want to go?” How about we talk location, COST, student body, research, specialty exposure, honors programs, grading/testing style, ranked vs not ranked…the comparisons could go on forever.

“Finally, I learned that we shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God. We get overanxious. We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God’s timing. But here’s an important reminder: If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you. There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go and let God. How? By resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”

First of all, the general consensus of these interview days are that they are…fun! I don’t know why I was so nervous about this part of the application process. I have genuinely loved each conversation I’ve had with current students, my faculty interviewers -and not to sound too confident – but I honestly think all of them liked me too (we’ll see just how much come December 1st, right?). Another cool part of these visits is meeting the other students there interviewing with me that day. We all instantly click and have great conversations throughout the day about our colleges, other interviews, our diverse backgrounds, etc. These same folks that all laugh when I say “Y’all” (or actually know where Baylor is and that our football team is pretty cool as of late) could in fact end up being my classmates and life-long friends or colleagues. Weird. Also extremely cool to think about. 

If we were to play a game where I just say the first words that come to my mind when I think of that school/city (or if you had a peek of my extensive pro/con comparison chart of each school), it’d look a little something like this:

baylor picTAMU/BCD: Family, happy, reputation, lab work, downtown Dallas, Texans, friends, familiar, busy (lotttttts of tests/quizzes every week), proximity to Waco/Austin/home, churches, supportive, clinical competency, cheapest, numerical grading, awesome faculty, people like me (but more diverse than Houston), tons of Baylor alumni

houston picUTSD: brand new, fun, laid-back, cool new city, hot and humid, best facilities, super friendly faculty, TX Medical Center (best/biggest in the world), great food/bars, art/culture, cousins live there, churches, integrated curriculum, numerical grading, research collaboration, Texans, former frat/srat vibe (I really don’t mean that in a bad way – just that they are all very social/outgoing, have fun)

penn picpenn pic other 1penn pic otherPENN: historic, super cool city vibe, diverse/global vision, ambitious, individualized, extensive honors programs, in clinic from day 1 (as assistants), well-rounded curriculum (general/clinical v specialties), rigorous, reputation, externships, collaborative/ALL schools on one campus, insane specialty rate (like 13 got into OS of 14 that applied, same for all specialties), lots of research, graded/rank top 10, Yesle (D3 blogger friend), supportive, tight-knit, cutting edge, beautiful weather and actual seasons, far from home, scary amount of dollar signs, Dean’s scholarship

columbia picnyc picnyc other picCOLUMBIA: NYC duh, medical education (with med students/med classes first 1.5 years), pioneering research, pass/fail/honors (WOW tempting), most diverse, incredibly driven, mentorship, family, networking, reputation, they breed specialists, strong OS prep (insane high scores on Step 1), work hard/play hard, more scary dollar signs, zero competitiveness, less preclinic/clinic, externships, highest cost of living, John (D2 Baylor alum), foodie central

All that to say…that’s my [lack of an] answer. I may or may not have other thoughts deep down and visions of my future that point in one direction or another, but for now I’m staying open-minded to anything that could happen. I’m tuning in to God’s voice and praying circles around this. Several people have told me at this point there is no such thing as a wrong decision. I fully believe that, and I remind myself daily that I will get clarity in God’s timing. More than anything, on my heart is the weight of the financial stress that this decision entails. Recently I’ve shifted towards asking for bigger than ever faith and trust that God is the ULTIMATE provider. Eventually we have to realize that we can plan like it depends on us, but we’ve got to pray like it depends on God. 

The future is exciting, my friends.

“While we’re busy planning, sometimes God is chuckling. And if our plans are way off, that contagious chuckle probably makes its way through angelic ranks like a laugh track. It’s not a vindictive chuckle, as if God relishes our failure. I just think God is sometimes amazed at how small our plans are. He allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail. So keep planning like it depends on you, but make sure you pray like it depends on God. Prayer is the alpha and omega of planning. Don’t just brainstorm, praystorm.”

– All quotes from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson –

September, Sic ‘Ems, and Spontaneity

I can’t believe how long I’ve made it without writing. I promise I really hate having such a long hiatus. Senior year has been off and ROLLING so fast, and I’ve just been so preoccupied with things like spontaneous concerts, watching record-breaking comeback football games (OMG SICEM BAYLOR BEARS – yes, I rushed the field so I’m sure you saw me on every sports channel and highlight reel), and Northeast/Ivy League adventures of dental school interviews. I will be writing soon with an update on my recent thoughts about it all and a look inside what these interviews are really like; long story short – I LIKE EVERY SCHOOL and am praying harder than ever before.

For a quick side note, I’m almost finished reading The Circle Maker, a book that will rock your prayer life and challenge you to pray hard, specific prayers circling your dreams that God has given you until a miracle comes through. Can you say financial provision and peace regarding overwhelming tuition costs and loan amounts?

I am resolving to be better about posting at least once a week with more specific topics because I find that when I go as long as a month without writing, I don’t even know where to begin.

Senior year is flying by way too quickly. Strong denial still persists about this whole graduation thing.

Baylor football is gaining more respect after each week’s display of what we’re made of, and we really love points and winning here in Wacotown. In other news, I’m still obsessed with Bryce Petty. Last night was INSANE.

petty

Histology is picking up pace, and after our first round of quizzes and an exam I’m completely embracing the mindset that even if I don’t end with an A, I’m learning endless information that will help me survive D1 year. We have big case study projects in lab coming up, and I chose an oral/dentistry specific case despite my prof’s warning that they’d require the most outside research and work to understand this new language of oral histology. I’ll take the challenge, though, because what a rare and refreshing thought that I actually get to study things applicable to my career.

Physics is still physics, management is just another business minor class that I don’t find incredibly great, but I do enjoy my Psalms and Wisdom Lit class and getting to know people better in our small class.

My new LifeGroup has been extremely welcoming, fun, passionate, and I already feel knit together with this new spiritual community.

My intramural volleyball team, the Serve-ivors made it to the second round of playoffs before losing a hard-fought game. We showed those sorority teams they aren’t the only ones who can play.

vball

Intramural flag football with ASDA (the pre-dental org I’m involved in) started up last week, and guess who the starting QB is? My pre-dent roommate and I made a pretty sweet team with several long completions last week, and my other roommate is joining us this week as an honorary member. We future dentists can be pretty sporty and had a marina social on Thursday, complete with sand volleyball and stand-up paddle-boarding on the Brazos. I’m loving the bigger membership this year and getting to know all the new freshman and sophomores. It’s really fun finally being the senior getting to share my words of wisdom and advice about what it really takes to get into dental school like my upperclassmen did for me. I’m actually taking on a role as somewhat of an “Academic Chair/Mentor” this year, and I’ll coordinate a few events or presentations on the real academic requirements, course recommendations, study habits, DAT advice, and just be a resource for all of the underclassmen applying in a few years. It’s hard to believe that in just a year’s time, I’ll be one of the dental students coming back to Baylor to share what life in dental school is really like to current ASDA members.

I could keep writing for hours just on the last month, but I’m headed to work anatomy open lab for my students’ upcoming practical this week. By the way, I’m loving my new job, getting to know everyone, and reviewing gross anatomy along the way. Winning all around.

Overall, I’ve been worlds more spontaneous this semester, and I don’t regret any of it. To be honest, studying has been put on the back burner, and soaking up every last second of my final year here has been totally worth it.

“Nothing says #collegelife like going to the best football game this week (year?) and being in downtown Dallas 2 hours later for a concert.” – @jessieprice11 on Twitter

Interview #1: nerve-racking or…fun??

The long awaited step that has been the one part of the application process I’ve always felt the least prepared for has officially started: I’ve got one dental school interview behind me!

My first one was at UTHSC – San Antonio this past week. One fun thing about interviews is the opportunity to squeeze a mini vacation out of it. My older sis and baby nephew tagged along for a couple days down to the chips and salsa capital of Texas.

but first, pizza

but first, pizza

Since this was my first of a few, I was slightly nervous and somewhat over-prepared. I trudged my way through pages of possible questions the week before and recruited Jenna to mock interview me as well as my sis helping the night before. Here’s a sample of some of the common questions I researched and thought up answers (but definitely not too-rehearsed) for:

Why dentistry?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Why our school?
How do you define success?
Tell me about your leadership experience.
Tell be more about ___________ (interesting topic from personal statement/other essays).
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
What career would you pursue if not dentistry?

I put on my brand spanking new suit and the heels that I was dreading would cause issues (I managed to end the day blister free thankfully), and found my way to the admissions office. I was thankful that me and my roommate were lucky enough to get the same interview date for both of our first. Having someone to make eye contact with during awkward moments or do mutual teeth checks with (remember we’re all talking to teeth-obsessed people so it matters, ok?) after lunch was a welcome gift. Once everyone had arrived in the conference room, I think I counted about twenty students. There was a collective quiet nervousness from everyone, but as the day went on and I got to talk to some of them, they were mostly pretty cool. The thought that some of these people could in fact become my classmates and best friends the next four years was crazy. We started with a presentation by the dean of student affairs about the school, curriculum, special programs, and student life. Next, there was a financial aid presentation discussing FASFA, loans, and the ridiculously intimidating dollar amounts none of us wanted to talk about. For lunch, one of my favorite parts of the day was getting to talk with current students about the school and life as a dental student. The (relevant side note – very attractive) guy that sat near me and I mostly talked to was a D3, super friendly, and eager to answer all my questions. Our interviews started around 1:00, and my student interview was first. Overall, it was extremely laid-back, and we clicked great; we discussed everything from triathlons to dental missions. Here’s some of the questions he really asked me (different from the lengthy list I practiced, but things I actually wanted to talk about).

What do you do to relieve stress?
What kind of books do you like to read?
How do you stay organized?
What will you/your strengths bring to our school?
How do you handle conflict?

Of course then I had a few questions I got to ask him about the school and how he likes living in San Antonio. We could have talked for several more minutes, but he had to take me down the hall to my faculty interviewer. 

My professor who interviewed me was an older ex-air-force doc over their AEGD programs in the comprehensive dentistry department (in other words a pretty important guy), and I could just tell by his loud and friendly demeanor that this interview would probably be just as stress-free. Again, I was wondering why I even thought to worry about this whole thing. We talked about playing music, my cooking, his military traveling, and he was especially interested in my religion minor. I went on to tell him about my personal interest in studying the Bible academically and even described a lot of the classes I had taken. Before I even started though, he said he could already tell I was a Christian (he was too) by the first ten minutes of our interview. It was really neat to be able to talk about one of my passions outside of dentistry-specific topics like my experience in Baylor’s religion department. Some other questions included:

How do you handle conflict? (again)
What do you do in your free time?
What kind of books do you read? (again)
How do you plan your day and stay organized/handle busy schedules?
What are your strengths?

Just like my first interview, we could have chatted for the rest of the hour. I felt like I had just met two people over coffee and talked about life. THIS was what I had been anxious about for so many months? He walked me back to the admissions office, and when we parted ways, he shook my hand and basically showered me with affirmation and wishes for my best. I was so thankful to be paired with such a genuine guy who loved his profession, being apart of the UTHSCSA family, and was so positive and encouraging to me in my future as a dentist.

The day ended with tour of the school, during which I actually ran into a friend there for a med school interview – small world! He casually blended in and tagged along to our tour so we could chat for a bit. After the tour we took a quick survey and had to write a short essay (nothing to really fret about – I can knock out a page on just about anything and make it sound convincing). I made sure and get one picture from the day with Audrey before catching the shuttle back to the hotel.

started freshman year, now we're here

started freshman year, now we’re here

I’ve got the other two Texas interviews this week and next, and I’m only hoping they are also so laid back and enjoyable. It turns out these seemingly scary days that determine our future could actually be…fun? After all, I should be looking forward to them because they are how I’ll get a feel for where I could be spending the next crazy hard but incredibly exciting next four years of my life.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

What else to celebrate one interview down than fish tacos and a marg on the riverwalk?

Interviews, SDN, and other nerdy things

Is this real life? All this time leading up to this next phase of interviews (and then ultimately/hopefully acceptances!) and now it’s finally here. I’m so grateful because I’ve already heard back from each of the Texas schools for interview invites! All of them are happening in August though (as soon as the 11th), and with it now being the 2nd, I’m getting slightly nervous since it’s so soon. I’m trying to be patient about the other out of state schools I applied to because according to Student Doctor Network (basically the type-A future doctor’s bible on all things admission tests/interviews/applications – and where I go to get a good laugh in at how ridiculous and stressed these guys are sometimes), they haven’t started to send out invites yet.

I quit working at Gap a couple weeks ago (freeeeedom), and I recently informed The Shack that this would be my last two weeks there – seriously so hard to do, and I’m not looking forward to whenever I have my last shift there. I hope if any of them are reading this they understand how much I loved and appreciated that job this summer. They let me fulfill my lifelong hope of working in a restaurant, and I have nothing but great memories to take with me.

I’ve spent some time (in between lots of spontaneous nights with friends, old and new) at one of my favorite spots in town to tackle projects with bottomless coffee and sweet morning treats in hand.10348360_750482198336353_6367950917821525942_n

First on the to-do list was to finish writing my blog post discussing my dental mission trip to Panama for the American Student Dental Association’s “Mouthing Off” blog (to be published this coming Friday!).  I have actually started to look into potential interview questions and tried to do some more research on each of the schools to somehow think up some all-too-important questions for my interviewers (without looking stupid by asking something I could easily find on their website). I’m confident on the talking about me part, so I’m hoping the interviews just turn into conversations elaborating on my application, discussing the latest books I’ve read, or what I do in my spare time to handle stress like blogging. Hey, it could happen.

Another task was crossed off this week when I purchased my first big girl professional suit. Now I’ve just got to find some “conservative” shoes to accompany it because for some reason admission committees don’t think dentists can be professional and stylish at the same time. I beg to differ.

To top off this post about the past busy few weeks, I think a picture of this Etsy purchase I bought for myself, just because, is in order. 10313654_751601114891128_1427569048264042981_n

It’s Saturday, friends. SMILE.