Born in Mexico and raised in the USA, I am a Dreamer and DACA recipient dreaming about dental school. Now 23, I have matured and had a chance to explore and research career options; every day I wake up, I feel more convinced that I made the right decision by setting my sights on dentistry. This has been especially true since I have volunteered at a local dental clinic for several years, mainly helping children of undocumented, Spanish-speaking families. I love interacting with patients, allowing them to stay comfortable, informed, and cheerful throughout their procedures. I feel most at home working in small spaces, having devoted much time to makeup, threading eyebrows, etc. Nothing excites me as much as the prospect of spending the next half-century doing something that I love daily and contributing to people’s lives, some of whom are the most vulnerable among us.
I am a product of America’s inner-city, which will help me serve my inner-city patients in the future. Many children I grew up with dropped out of high school, got pregnant, were shot, or jailed – some have been killed. I was awarded a scholarship to attend a Catholic high school, which helped me focus on my studies and prepare for college. Since I had already set my sights on dental school, I took my physical science classes incredibly seriously. I am most pleased to be a success story for my community.
My choices were limited since I did not qualify for financial aid for college due to my immigration status. I first spent a year attending Wilbur Wright Community College and working two jobs to pay my tuition and expenses. With the support of my parents, who were also working two jobs each, I could transfer to UIC for my sophomore year. The financial strain is evident in my GPA. Usually, staying up until 4 am studying for classes and exams left me 2 hours to sleep, plus one more on the train. I sometimes slept between classes and then returned on the train for another hour and a half to go to work. I am convinced that my GPA does not accurately reflect my academic potential.
Another reason why I hope to give my all to dentistry is my father, who was always very insecure about his teeth as I was growing up, never smiling for photos. My interest in dentistry as a career choice was also significantly strengthened at a medical and dental summer enrichment program geared towards Latino/a students immediately following my graduation from high school. I felt most at home in the cadaver lab, dissecting the eyes and brains of cows. My volunteer work at dental clinics has reinforced my conviction that dentistry is my true calling. I love calming and reassuring nervous people, helping them feel comfortable and safe, particularly the children.
My mother, father, and I crossed the Rio Grande River into the US when I was only two months old. My parents endured hard times to feed me and put a roof over our heads. For many years, my parents could not afford the dental care they needed; having their teeth removed was the least expensive option. The image of my mother lying on the sofa in pain with an icepack against her cheek frequently crosses my mind. My humble origins help me relate exceptionally well with my patients, who are also from humble backgrounds.
As an active member of the UIC pre-dental club, we attended open houses and pre-dental nights at the UIC Dental school, where I made friends with dental students. I started volunteering at Asian Human Services Dental Clinic (AHS), giving back to the local underserved immigrant community, assisting with procedures, learning how to read and take x-rays, chart first-time patient exams, and the materials used during fillings extractions, denture procedures, and more. Over the years of volunteering at AHS, I built relationships with patients and students from Midwestern and UIC dental schools. AHS is a teaching clinic, so I frequently assisted dental students doing their rounds.
Proud to be a first-generation Mexican-American, I want to spend my professional lifetime lending a helping hand to those who need it most, my people, especially the little ones. I see it as a duty, an honor, a privilege, and an adventure.
I thank you for considering my application.
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