My name is Dr. Aierress Davis. I’m a first-generation dentist from Jacksonville, Florida. I attended the University of Central Florida and received my Bachelor’s in Health Science with a double minor in Chemistry and African-American studies. Following undergrad, I took a gap year and worked in an Endodontic office in Orlando, Florida while I applied for dental school. Although I was not accepted during that application cycle, I did receive admission into the Masters in Health Science program at Meharry Medical College which, at the time, offered a seat in the next dental class following successful completion of their degree program with a GPA requirement and a 17 DAT score. In May of 2017, I graduated from my Masters's program with high honors and in July of 2017 I started dental school. I graduated with my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in May of 2021, and I am currently a first-year Periodontal resident at the Dental College of Georgia.
That was a LOT of information, but believe it or not - that’s only a portion of my story. I started off my post by mentioning that I am a first-generation dentist. Although this is a great honor and something I am extremely proud of - I mention this fact because it speaks to the difficulty and challenges I faced blindly in my pursuit of dentistry. I’ve known that I wanted to be a dentist since I was 14 years old, but I truly had no clue how that would happen. To be completely honest, I didn’t have a great understanding of what it took until I was in college. I had no mentor, no money, and no shadowing experience. Through my grandmother, I was lucky enough to secure a mentor who owned an office and allowed me to shadow for the first time, during the summer of my freshman year. I had pretty average grades during my undergraduate years and I could not afford to pay for a DAT prep course. Just about every pre-health advisor I visited encouraged me to change career paths, not to apply to dental school, or just consider a master’s degree for the time being.
Here’s where I’ll share my first tip of advice-know that if you truly want to become a dentist, nothing will stop you from achieving that goal; not the doubt of others or even yourself. Countless times, I believed what those advisors would say to me and would often say to myself “I’ll never become a dentist”. Watch what you say to and about yourself-ultimately, that is what matters most. The moment I decided to change my thinking and tell myself that I will become a dentist, no matter what-everything changed. I stepped out on faith and used every resource I could to apply to dental school. I ensured that although I wasn’t a star academically, I displayed my on & off-campus leadership, volunteer hours, and shadowing experiences. I took the DAT following graduation and applied to two programs because that was all that I could afford at the time. Looking back I am SO glad that I didn’t listen to the advice of those advisors, but the voice inside of me that knew I was capable of becoming a dentist.
I’m pretty far removed from the application process, but here’s some advice for students who may not have the highest overall and science GPA when applying.
Be realistic-when I applied my overall GPA was 3.1. I don’t remember what my science GPA was, but it was lower than that. On my application, I highlighted prerequisite classes that I had achieved an A in, and the many upper-level Chemistry courses I was successful in. I knew my GPA wasn’t competitive, but it also wasn’t below a 3.0 and when I checked the ADEA website for schools I was interested in applying to, at the time, it fell within their range. So when I say be realistic, I mean fact check the school you’re applying to. If their lowest accepted applicant has a 3.5 and you have a 2.75, I’m not saying you won’t get in but I am saying that institution clearly values applicants with very high GPAs.
Highlight your extracurricular activities and how they will impact your performance as a dental student-as I mentioned before, I was heavily involved on and off-campus. I emphasized the fact that my leadership experiences taught me how to interact with a diverse group of people, and be a servant leader. Two qualities that are essential to a successful dentist, who is the leader of their dental team. Even if your ECs are personal, think deeply about how those experiences will impact you as a dental student and ultimately as a dental professional.
Have faith and believe in yourself no matter what-what’s meant for you will always come to you, no matter what! Please know that I haven’t always had the most faith in myself, and still don’t! But when it came to dentistry, I knew that this profession is something I am truly passionate about. There was no other profession I wanted to pursue, so I had to change my mindset and simply believe it would work out for me. Have faith in yourself, you’re reading this it’s because deep down you KNOW you can & will become a dentist!
I could go on & on about my journey, but I hope and pray that some part of my blog resonated with you. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with any questions or comments you may have along your journey!
All the best,
Aierress Davis, MHS, DDS
What is something you learned from Dr. Davis' experience? What inspired you for your dental journey? Let us know in the comments below!