My earliest memory is of me wearing scrubs with my name embroidered on them for Halloween. I wanted to be a doctor. I've always wanted to be a doctor. You can see it in my third-grade class's book "When I Grow Up," a book about what we all wanted to be when we became adults. There were mermaids, superheroes, and firemen plastered all over the book. But for me, medicine was the only path I could imagine.
This continued on throughout my academic career into high school where I joined the Health Science Academy at my school, a program that would allow you to work toward your CNA certification by the time you graduated high school. I was SOLD. Alongside the health science academy, I also started training to be a Student Athletic Trainer, a decision that would follow me to my sophomore year of college at Mississippi State. It was anything I could do to get my hands to be healers at that point in my life. Fast forward to my junior year at Mississippi State, I am pre-med, involved in pre-health organizations, and I just became an officer in biochemistry club.
The summer rolls around and I am taking Cal 2 for the third time. I fail it again. At the end of my rope on the drive home, absolutely bawling my eyes out. Then, at the edge of ending it all, I pull my car over to the side of the road and google probably the most desperate thing I have ever searched in my entire life, "health careers without math prereqs." I felt like I had to do anything I could to still be called a doctor and figure out a way to disappoint my family in the least way possible. Two options popped up immediately, optometry and dentistry.
So in a fell swoop of wisdom and grace, I called my mom while she was working with her boss and basically explained to her that I could not keep living a life of fear. I had grown to be so afraid and worry about the future. The thought of not getting into medical school kept me up at night. Like I had nightmares of the letter coming in the mail and I got a big, fat rejection. She talked me down off the ledge, explaining that neither of those options is a "step down" and that I was not disappointing anyone by adapting my life course.
The rest of the drive home I kept thinking about what my next step was. How was I going to shift my life? So, I started talking to everyone who would listen to me about what I was feeling. They all told me the same thing: my path is twisted and curved as it needs to be for me to become who I am. Otherwise known as "trust the process." After looking into the different prerequisites for each of the probable paths, I chose to pursue dentistry.
And I know, it's wild to hear a 21-year-old college student say they want to work on people's teeth for the rest of their life. that felt like something that 45-year-old's just woke up one day and decided to be. But, I'll be completely honest, I have not been as happy as I am now in years. I don't feel like I am waking up every day with this giant boulder on my shoulders. I don't have this constant countdown to my MCAT date.
And most importantly, I don't feel this worry about how I would balance being a good mother and being a doctor, because they both require HUGE time commitments.
I know I am extremely lucky, I come from a very supportive family who accepts and supports me in my decisions. I have amazing friends who utilize their resources to help me get shadowing experience. I have an amazing university that enables me to do whatever I set my mind to. Through their efforts and support, I can succeed. I bought my first DAT (Dental Admissions Test) book today, and I am dang near giddy with excitement. I encourage you all to pursue what sets your heart on fire because, at the end of the day, your happiness and quality of life have to come first.