“I knew I wanted to go to dental school since I was 12 years old, and came to college to pursue this dream. I wasn’t just interested in majoring in a general science however;, rather, I wanted to apply the topics I was taught. While a major such as biology checked off a lot of prerequisites for dental school, I wanted a more active learning process, one that the Department of Bioengineering provides. By applying what I learned to real world problems, I was better able to understand and appreciate the material more than through regular class lectures.
Bioengineering also gives a good critical view of healthcare topics. We’re equipped with a broad range of subjects, and have a broad view of many problems. Although I can’t necessarily solve all problems on my own, I have a good understanding of the process to solve them, and can work with others who have the technical skills needed.
After graduation, I am pursuing a D.D.S./Ph.D. I felt that as a dentist I would be content, but I would have a smaller radius of impact within my community. With only a Ph.D., I felt I could reach a lot of people through research, but I worried that I would feel too removed from patients. So I want to do research informed by practice. I’m intrigued and worried in the lack of access to oral care. One example of this is cavities are now a pandemic that cost the world a lot of money. There is an increasing emphasis on preventive care. I aim to combine my background in bioengineering with what I learn in dental school to ultimately help many people have access to dental care.
The pre-dental track with bioengineering was especially tough while being a rower for UW for 3 years. Due to the rigor of a D1 college athlete’s schedule, I took a fifth year to complete all my bioengineering and dental requirements. I wanted to get the most out of both experiences. It was nice to have time away from school at practice with friends, but more than anything, athletics taught me to manage my time well. Although I am not rowing for UW this year, I have recently started competitive cycling, and am planning on continuing throughout dental school.
Looking back, I wish I had the opportunity to work with industry in my capstone experience, but that’s changing in the future for other students. I think that will help students who are motivated by solving industry-based problems. My advice to future bioengineers is to be open to change, adapt when necessary and enjoy the process instead of overthinking it. I’ve learned to stop overthinking things, and trust that everything is going to work itself out overall if I put in the work. I think that at the end of the day you should be having fun doing what you’re doing, and if you don’t like it, don’t do it if you have a different option.”