Looking back at my life while writing this statement, I have concluded that I ultimately chose dentistry as my profession because of a sequence of events in my childhood and adolescence that set the stage for my great passion for oral health and my intense determination to give all that I can to dentistry. Of humble origins in China, I grew up in a society that placed a very low priority on oral health care, especially prevention. Subsequently, I suffered as an adolescent from rotting teeth that were already poorly aligned; this resulted in my being made fun of at school and bullied. As a result of my classmates' relentless teasing over my “strange” teeth, I did not dare to smile, with very few exceptions, until I was nearing adulthood and my family finally found the money to fix my teeth. Thus, I know very well and first-hand how much the practice of dentistry can have a positive influence on a person’s life.
I have now experienced countless joyful moments in dentistry, supporting research and serving as a dentist, teacher, and researcher. It was an enormous privilege for me to study in one of China’s top-10 stomatological hospitals for seven years and teach dentistry in China for five years, also in a top-notch program. My last seven years devoted to research in the USA, in particular, have prepared me for excellence in your advanced standing program for international dentists. I am fully convinced that I will be able to hit the ground running in your DDS/DMD program for international dentists (IDP) and excel from the very beginning.
My passion for helping the underserved in desperate need in my community in China drove me to organize my peers to help, especially in oral health awareness. With support from our school, I organized events with classmates providing verbal health instructions and outreach oral examinations and referrals for free treatment. I partnered with the Oral-B Company, promoting their products in exchange for their support. While finishing up dental school, I was selected by Dr. XXXX, the Associated Dean of the Beijing Stomatological Hospital and School of Stomatology at Capital Medical University, to become a member of his clinical and research team. This opportunity allowed me to cultivate and develop my career, including practicing in the clinic, teaching, and conducting research. Soon, I started to work independently as an oral surgeon treating patients with salivary gland diseases through surgical and non-surgical approaches, as an oral radiologist performing imaging diagnoses of various oral and maxillofacial diseases, and as an instructor teaching undergraduate and graduate students oral radiology. I also served as a research assistant, helping members of the faculty and Ph.D. students with their projects.
Some of my finest hours have been spent under tremendous pressure serving in the Emergency Department in China before coming to the USA. The workload included patients and students from various backgrounds and cultures speaking various languages. I learned and practiced purposely to improve my communication skills, treating them as friends and learning to think and feel appropriately by putting myself in their shoes. My passion for dentistry, internal drive to learn new technologies and skills, meticulous nature, and compassion and empathy made me popular among dentists and teachers in our hospital and dental school. Throughout several years of practicing in clinics, teaching, and research, I was promoted to the position of Attending Dentist in my clinical work and won the “Colgate Scholarship for Outstanding Teacher” as a testimony to my performance in teaching.
Earning the Ph.D. in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Beijing Stomatological Hospital & School of Stomatology at Capital Medical University, mentored by Dr. XXXX, carried with it the most favorable result that I was chosen to join a collaborative research training program at the University of Southern California's (USC) dental school. I authored nine publications, two book chapters, two first-authored and five co-authored articles. I soon moved to Los Angeles and began serving as a post-doctoral fellow at the USC School of Dentistry, focusing on craniofacial development. I was promoted to Assistant Professor of Research at USC in 2017.
Closest to my heart has been my volunteer work at UXX, serving as a dental assistant for dental outreaches sponsored by our dental school and by the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, providing free dental services to low-income and uninsured individuals. I feel happy to help people in need and make a genuinely positive and sustainable improvement in the lives of individuals. I have witnessed poor oral health among disadvantaged people here in the USA. This inspires me to devote energy to promoting effective preventive measures for treating dental diseases.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering my admission to your IDP Program.