Since I applied for international dentist programs last year, 2017, I have taken several online classes in preparation for my TOFEL examination. I plan to take the TOFEL at some point this year, 2020. This is especially important since my progress in improving my English has been one of the factors I have identified as especially critical to my dental success here in America. Each day throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I sorted out and expressed my feelings, hopes, and dreams in English, spending much less time communicating in my first language, Armenian.
I have made extensive progress in my capacity in English throughout this last year, and I hope this will positively impact my application. Always an optimist, I have never lost faith that, in time, we would pull through COVID-19 due to human solidarity and working together to defeat this common enemy, by far the worst tragedy that has occurred to the human race during my lifetime. Perhaps my most excellent resource to propel me to success as an international dentist here in the USA is my wonderful family, lovely twin daughters, and devoted husband. All three of them now stand solidly behind me, encouraging me every step of the way and doing all they can today, and they will continue to support me in my career. We all see ‘mom’ practicing Dentistry in the USA as a family mission to which they are almost as devoted as I am.
My country of origin, Armenia, is one of the most Christian countries in the world, with Christianity deeply embedded in every aspect of our lives, culture, worldview, and sense of identity. Since we lived in Southern California before the pandemic, I would go with my family every Sunday to worship at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank. Under quarantine, we worship online, and I drew even closer to my community than I felt before, brought together to bond in solitary to confront the crisis as a culture, as a transplanted group of people who turn to each other in times of crisis like those that we have been living through this past year.
I could not be more pleased that California has a large Armenian community, which I hope to serve, particularly as a dentist, providing top-notch dental care to Armenians here in the USA. I am also thrilled that my spirituality and community are bonded in my identity and service mission. I cannot help but make plans to serve my community first and foremost in my day-to-day life, supplemented mainly through tasks to the Developing World where my service could do the most for the underserved, those who most need my help. Along with improving my English, my spirituality has grown as well. These days, I pray each day in English to our Lord Jesus Christ, asking that he have mercy on us, inspire and strengthen us to defeat COVID-19, guide us, and help us to find the tools and the strategies so that our children and our children’s children may also survive and prosper.
All this month, I have been able to attend church every Sunday with my family. The revitalization and the spiritual strengthening are two of the primary resources I now bring to Dentistry here in the land of the free and the brave courage to serve, a mission that comes from the essential source of life and strength. I am fully in contact with God as he is expressed in the physical presence of my community of faith, those I hope to provide special attention to as an oral health professional. At Christmas time, an outdoor, socially-distanced candle-lighting ceremony took place in honor of the manger scene with statues of the baby Jesus and his family. We sang Christmas songs alongside a famous Armenian vocalist, Andrea Bociale. The candle I lit that night will always be with me, one of my most prized possessions and physical sources of inspiration.
The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for us all, but having the chance to go to the church and celebrate our Lord outside by lighting candles was a special moment for all of us to be reunited after our church had been closed for months. I took advantage of this occasion to reaffirm my vows to dentistry, especially the underserved, who our Lord gave preferential treatment.
Since I was a child, I have been dreaming about horse riding. My uncle owns a ranch with horses, so during our Armenian holiday, Corentin, we always visit them. Early in the morning one day, as I was helping my uncle feed the horses, he gave me horse riding lessons. I can’t explain how fulfilled I felt after those lessons. I continue to ride horses to this day, keeping me strong, agile, and attentive.
I could not be more ready, dedicated, motivated, and passionate about beginning my Advanced Placement Program for International Dentists. I assure you that I will give my all 24/7 for the time I have left on our endangered planet.
English has been my foremost struggle to rebuild my dentistry career here in the USA. This is why, this past year, I have made my study for the TOEFL exam my first and foremost priority. From my last application till now, much change has occurred, and I feel that my English has improved a great deal and helped me to have more to offer Dentistry than I had a year ago due to the experience I gained.
I received my World Education Services evaluation of my foreign credential too late to send it to CAAPID because they were shut down for months because of COVID-19. The company was not working at all for a certain period. Even when they returned to work, communication with them was almost impossible. Eventually, they sent me my evaluated foreign graduate degree too late for me to send it to CAAPID.
On the bright side, I was admittedly unprepared to take the TOEFL exam one year ago. Now, however, after a full year of devoting myself primarily to my study for this examination, when I was not working in the dental clinic. Now, in 2020 I am most confident that I will excel based on my year of hard work. I will very soon be sitting for the examination.
Especially as it continued on and on, week after week, month after month, increasingly, COVID-19 became a nightmare from which one never woke up; some of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances have expressed much the same sensation. It was unpredictable, with our understanding of what was happening in constant flux, the miracle of today, the failure of tomorrow. I adapted to COVID-19 the same way I do everything, one step at a time, constantly carefully adapting to what transpired and carefully planning my next moves. Keeping myself busy taking online classes to prepare for my TOEFL exam, I convinced myself that tomorrow would be brighter. As it is well established that the home environment is not the optimal place to sit and concentrate for class, I often went to the library because I found the atmosphere most conducive for studying and attending my online courses. After my studies, I always took a walk in the library garden, often praying and refreshing myself for the next day and a lifetime of giving my all to Dentistry in a world where COVID-19 was behind us instead of all around us.
The pandemic's highlight is that I was named employee of the month for three months as a registered dental assistant. Our patients have almost all been delighted and amazed by how I performed my work and followed infection control. My parents were writing good comments about my work performance, and the office was always in good shape. Parents recommend us to other parents who do not hesitate to bring their kids to the dental office.
I have enjoyed this past year doing some reading in language acquisition. What I find incredibly fascinating is the extent to which, when, and how stress is thought to aid language acquisition, in my case, foreign language acquisition. The arguments are cut both ways, some emphasizing the benefits and others on the disadvantages for specific populations, ages, times, places, etc. My massive triumph of the COVID-19 era has been that with each passing day, I have been asked to repeat what I had just said less than the day before. It is almost rare, and I have learned compensatory strategies for making my pronounced accent more intelligible. The stress has been particularly brutal since my mother was diagnosed with COVID-19. I surprise myself at how natural and fluent I sounded when talking to her doctors in English.
My first choice among International Dental Programs (IDPs) was and still is the University of XXXX (UXX). This is primarily because I had a chance to go to UXX and serve as a preceptor for a whole month. I was careful to observe as closely as possible the many ways that the oral health professionals at UXX meticulously explained and demonstrated procedures to students. This month was the most rapid-growth period in my life, and I revisit the experience in my memory frequently. In short, I fell in love with USC in person and made great contacts with many other professionals that will serve me well for a lifetime. This was probably the happiest month of my life to date.
I paid incredibly close attention to how ASPID program classes were scheduled at UXX, how many lab hours were entailed, and how much work students had after school. I appreciate how students in the Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists at UXX can join their more advanced colleagues in the regular DDS program and begin working directly with patients in the school’s oral health clinics and numerous community service programs. Most of all, I enjoyed being around highly educated Doctors from whom I learned a lot of helpful tips.
My next choice would be XXXX University. With a great Southern California location, tremendous clinical training opportunities, and significant cultural and recreational resources, I also appreciate the long humanistic tradition of XXXX University. XXXX is a pioneer in treating patients as people first and students as colleagues: fostering camaraderie among everyone in the program.
It would be the profound honor of a lifetime to be accepted to the program for international dentists at XXXX University. Given the way that Loma Linda is renowned as a faith-based university. I appreciate the smaller class sizes, family atmosphere, high volume, and broad range of clinical experiences of the XXXX faculty.
California is my adopted home, and I could not be more in love with the part of the world I have adopted as my own. Nevertheless, XXXX University has a well-earned mystique among international dentists. It is among my top choices, as it is for almost all international dentists with similar hopes.
Finally, UCX is among my top choices for its exceptional reputation, location, and overall level of excellence.