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My love for dentistry is pure, just as my special journey to discover this amazing profession. I was raised in Vietnam, but my adult years have been spent here in America, where I have volunteered to help oral health initiatives. I feel strongly that I might be able to give something back to society by spending my life working to educate communities about oral health, especially those whose limited resources make it extremely difficult for them to find affordable dental care. I traveled quite a lot in Vietnam and visited many underserved areas; since my parents are both very socially conscious physicians, I was immersed early on in many public health issues and debates.
I have always been highly motivated to be independent through a variety of projects, such as selling Valentine’s Day flowers and handmade gifts on a street corner. I was very successful, since people loved the unique creativity of my products. And I was also generous with the money that I earned, giving much of it away to people who were in desperate need of help. I find my most profound fulfillment in building new relationships and visualizing the happiness of people. As a high school girl, I maintained good grades at the same time that I cultivated my passion for art and human growth, most of all how to love and care for people.
Life has been challenging for me with unfamiliar language and culture when I immigrated to America; yet, I was accepted by UCSD into one of the leading Bioengineering programs in the nation. I am fascinated by the astounding advancements that have been made in the area of medical and dental instrumentation, and I follow these developments closely in the literature. My experience working in a lab has also helped me to enhance my manual dexterity.
There is always room for the human touch. Everything came together for me in an epiphany last summer when I was myself seated on the dentist chair. Under the brilliant glow of light and the captivating drilling sounds, the dentist appeared as a scientist who, at the same time, utilizes her hand-skills gently as an artist to heal and comfort her patients. Dentistry is truly my dream profession as it combines everything I am compassionate for. My knowledge about dentistry has been strengthened by shadowing, and participating in pre-dental workshops, and volunteer activities. I took pre-dental technique courses to ensure that I have manual dexterity to fit in the profession. When I recently attended a California Dental Association event where the latest in dental technology was presented, I took special delight in explaining to my pre-dental friends how various instruments work especially well as a result of their cutting-edge design. As a bioengineering student, I have continued to cultivate a good sense of the mechanics and technology of medical and dental instrumentation.
The most powerful role models that I have had so far have been the dentists who volunteer for a dental clinic for low income people where I also help out. Many of these dentists worked full time and then came to volunteer at these free clinics until 9 pm. I also had an opportunity to volunteer at a dental screening event at elementary schools in the San Diego area, where I met a little boy who was called “silver man” because he had so many stainless steel crowns on his baby teeth. He thought that he would be a this way forever as no one had even told him about permanent teeth, much less proper oral hygiene. When he hugged me really tight, I could feel his boundless yet speechless gratitude. Such moments have elevated my motivation to become a dentist; it is no longer a personal desire, it is a call to be a part of something much larger. No child should be called “silver man” because children deserve healthy and beautiful smiles.
I am going to pursue general dentistry while learning another foreign language, for my goal is to be a dentist who can serve and educate dental care to a diverse community. I do believe in overcoming language barriers and providing more volunteer work are the key factors in improving access to public health care. From my engineering perspective, I love mastering the mechanics of state-of-the-art tools. From my artist view, I love to see beautiful artworks coming out from a natural passion. From the bottom of my heart, I love to care for people to improve their health and quality of life. This is how I see dentistry in me, and how I know I belong to dentistry.