Upon being born in San Francisco, California, my family hastily moved to Peru. Growing up in Lima was by no means a “usual” experience; I witnessed a form of poverty that I never would have been able to even fathom in the United States. Although my family lived modestly, others in the small town of Quillabama were far less fortunate. My time in Peru forced me to witness various health problems that have served to hamper the lives of so many individuals, problems which, if left unchecked, will only continue to strain and shorten the lives of many others.
One of the most powerful images that influenced me to work with others in providing healthcare came when I saw hundreds of humanitarians from around the world, particularly from the United States, arrive in Peru to give basic health treatments to the indigenous population. Sadly, many of these people waited in endless lines to receive basic care, even for menial procedures like tooth fillings and routine check-ups. It is this injustice that has driven me to attempt to find a career in the health industry, as I feel that there is a sincere need for the profession not only in the United States, but also throughout the international community.
Later, after my family moved to Lima, the capitol of Peru, I was enrolled in a highly regarded private school, intending to one day develop a strong enough education to help those less fortunate than myself. My mother had given me the tools for success that so many of today's youth lack, especially in Third World countries, and as a result, I worked hard in high school, garnering a tennis scholarship to Sacramento State and, later, Loyola Marymount. Athletic competition taught me a great deal about the value of perseverance and personal accountability, two things which I have held dear to this day and believe will be crucial in achieving my long-term goals.
Yet my dream of becoming a dentist was still, unfortunately, just a dream. It wasn't until I applied myself in the industry while seeking new challenges in the process that I truly learned about the profession. The summer of my junior year of college, I worked as an intern in a dentist's office. The more I shadowed the dentist, Dr. Burnett, and increased my knowledge about the subject and its trials and difficulties, the more I transformed my dream into a goal. I spent hours learning how to accomplish procedures such as root canals, crown preparation and placement, and basic fillings. This hands-on experience has helped given me an insight into dentistry and the healthcare industry that many undergraduates lack, and has helped propel my study of the field to new heights.
In addition to learning about patients and developing bonds with individuals in need of dental care, I also learned the importance of another facet of dentistry and the healthcare industry as a whole: the importance of care given to patients. This care is something that initially gave me the desire to seek a job in the medical profession, and was only reinforced after my experiences shadowing Dr. Burnett, who constantly reiterated the importance of maintaining positive relationships and interactions with every patient. Even though experiences like these can be highlighted throughout various medical fields, I felt that Dr. Burnett and his co-workers related to their patients in a far more personal level than other jobs I had witnessed in the healthcare industry, a main reason why I wish to pursue a career in dentistry.
My desire to improve the lives of others in my community has always, and will continue to define me as a person, and is something that has driven me to constantly achieve the greatest academic and extracurricular goals possible. While dentistry may involve a complete understanding of cavity filling and check-ups, I believe that it also involves a lesser-known craft: compassion. This compassion is something that will motivate me to strive to be the best dentist I can be, and I hope to never lose sight of such goals.