Hi, my name is Justina Esuola, and I am a current D4 at UCLA School of Dentistry. As we all know, preparing for dental school is a long, but rewarding journey. During the process of applying for dental schools, I had to realize the sacrifices that I was making at the moment would be worth it in the end. When applying for schools, I thoroughly looked into each program's curriculum, its service opportunities, and its patient population. I took time to decide if I could truly see myself as a student dentist there for four years.
When writing my personal statement I made sure to stay true to myself, I wrote about experiences that highlighted my character and me as an individual. I highlighted my passion for health care, my volunteering experiences, my community service, and my study abroad experience, which was a highlight of my undergraduate career. Additionally, I spoke about the research I participated in undergrad and my experiences of being a teacher assistant for two lab courses. While in undergrad I believe it is important to diversify yourself, do not only participate in extracurriculars you believe will look good on applications but extracurriculars that truly bring you joy. These will be the activities that dental schools will want to hear the most about and will allow you to stand out as a candidate!
Other extracurricular activities I participated in that I enjoyed included LMU’s Lions for Venice Family Clinic. My responsibilities included assisting medical and dental providers in caring for patients by taking patient vitals and performing screenings. As the president of the organization, my responsibilities included training pre-dental and pre-medical students to successfully assist health care physicians in treating patients in various clinics. Other extracurricular activities I participated in included a service organization, Marians Service Organization, where members would volunteer at sites that aided in the betterment of women and children. I also participated in medical/dental missions both domestically and internationally, these organizations provided free medical, dental, and vision exams in the US and internationally. I was able to assist physicians in caring for community members who attend the missionary events.
When studying for the DAT, I encouraged myself to remain on a very strict and effective schedule for about a month or two, I utilized study materials such as DAT Bootcamp, Barron's DAT Preparation Booklet, KAPLAN DAT Preparation Booklet and would take weekly practice tests to evaluate my progress. As we all know DAT Scores, GPAs, extracurriculars are all very important but staying true to yourself when writing your personal statement and in interviews are equally as important. During your interview make sure you allow your personality to shine through, dental schools want to know the individuals they are bringing in are not only academically talented but are also personable and are able to engage with their future patients.
And with that, good luck, and always remember you got this!