When I was in high school, I realized that I wanted to be a dentist. However, I did not have the slightest clue how I was going to get there. The journey to become a dentist involves a variety of steps. Dental schools are competitive, looking for well-rounded, compassionate, insightful candidates. Before you plan to matriculate into dental school, you must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), score in the competitive range, and apply to schools of interest. If a school likes your application and feels that you are qualified, they will offer you an interview to determine if you are the right ‘fit’ for that particular school. Once admitted, you must complete another 4+ years of schooling in order to become a dentist. Daunting, right? As a high schooler, I was overwhelmed.
At Juniata College, I was fortunate to receive ample guidance which made this process simpler. In my first semester, I met with Dr. Jim Borgardt who was assigned as my academic advisor. Dr. Borgardt advises all of the pre-dentistry students at Juniata, which means that he knows a lot about the admissions process for dental school. We meet every semester, helping to track my progress and keep me on pace for my goals. He also is an awesome guy who has made my overall experience at Juniata a great one.
At Juniata, there are courses tailored specifically for health professions students. I took a class called Health Careers Seminar in the fall of my junior year. This course is designed to prepare students about the upcoming application cycle. For this class, I reflected on my experiences and was able to realize where my application could be improved. We also drafted and analyzed personal statements, which can be one of the most difficult aspects of the application process.
Juniata College also has a health professions committee, which is a great asset for pre-health students. The committee is made up of faculty and staff members from various disciplines that strive to guide and support students interested in the health professions. This committee monitors our academic progress and conducts mock-interviews for those planning to apply. In addition, the committee will write recommendation letters for students applying to professional schools. Dr. Borgardt wrote my committee letter, and it was assuring to have someone that I trusted write this important document on my behalf.
In addition, I also had flexibility to participate in numerous activities that helped shape me into a well-rounded applicant. I studied abroad in Chile, conducted research in biology, played softball, worked as a tour guide, admissions blogger, orientation leader, and tutored in physics and organic chemistry. After applying and interviewing, I was offered admission to several dental schools, some of which were among the highest-ranked programs in the country. After much consideration, I decided that I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine starting in the fall of 2021.
As graduation draws closer, it is becoming more apparent that I will soon be leaving Juniata. It will be difficult for me to part from this special place, which has become a second home over the past four years. However, I am excited for the next chapter of my life to begin, which I owe to the wonderful education I have received here at JC.