Monday, February 27, 2012

Breakdown of the AADSAS Application

Here is the AADSAS Presentation Powerpoint that I made for members of my pre-dental society.

Below is the corresponding presentation that I gave - the AADSAS presentation starts at 6:06. The volume/volume quality is very low so bear through this and turn your speaker volume up!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trojan Dance Marathon 2012

Trojan Dance Marathon, 2012. Dancing with awesome people until the very end of the night at 2am! I'm proud to be a part of the event that raised $60,064 for the Children's Miracle Network as the representative of the pre-dental organization.

For. the Kids!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ASDOH Interview

Following my stint in the rainy and frigid depths of San Francisco last week, it was a relief to be touching down at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport in Arizona. After all, it's the one place (aside from Hawaii, but that doesn't count because it's not mainland) in the U.S. that has better winter weather than Los Angeles. I arrived in Phoenix dressed in a cardigan and my UGG boots, only to realize that I was wearing too many layers. Most locals in Phoenix were wearing short sleeve shirts in the middle of the winter.

For this interview, I stayed at the La Quinta Inn and Suites, which has a discounted rate for ASDOH interviewees at $96. Which is still expensive but affordable, unlike hotel rooms in San Francisco. Coming from an extra urban and compact city, I love how everything in Arizona is wide open and spacious. It's nice to finally be in a place where land/space isn't a rare commodity. At the same time, it's rather lonely here because people are scarce and nothing fun or worth exploring is within walking distance. After living in a diverse city, it's hard to adapt to the suburban lifestyle filled with standard American chain restaurants and shopping malls. Where are the mom and pops restaurants filled with an array of delicious ethnic cuisines? Where are the small boutiques within walking distance?

In an effort to find "ethnic" cuisine within walking distance, I stumbled into a P.F. Changs (which is better described as an overpriced version of Panda Express).

Overall, ASDOH was my favorite school that I have interviewed at. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it even more than my time at the University of the Pacific. There are things that make ASDOH stand out above all of the other dental schools: 
  • Extraordinary facilities: As a new school that opened in 2003, ASDOH has esthetically pleasing and brand new facilities. The campus features spacious rooms brightly lit by the oversized windows that let in an abundance of sunlight (which is clearly not lacking in Arizona). All of the dental clinics are also equipped with the most technologically advanced equipment.

  • Modular curriculum: the style of the curriculum at ASDOH makes the dental school experience seem less stressful, which is a definite plus. I really like the idea of finishing boards after the 1st year and having the next 3 years to hone my clinical skills as a dentist.

  • Dean Dillenberg: ASDOH was the only school that I interviewed at that had the dean personally come speak to the interviewees. He provides a unique perspective, positive energy, and a freshness to the dental school interview process. After our session with Dean Dillenberg, I was pretty much sold on attending ASDOH if I were able to get in.

  • Price: compared to USC and University of the Pacific, ASDOH has the cheapest tuition by far.

  • Inexpensive Housing: University of the Pacific, at their Pacific Heights campus, has a disgustingly expensive housing market. At a minimum of $1,500 per room, it is actually more expensive than housing in Los Angeles. I believe housing is closer to $1,200 per room in Los Angeles. In contrast, you can probably rent a whole apartment for $1,000 a month in Arizona.

  • Focus on clinical experience: It's interesting to be at a school that doesn't have specialty programs, allowing dental students to do the complex dental procedures that would otherwise be referred to specialists. I'm also really intrigued by the 4th year rotations, which will give me perspective on working in a community health dental clinic. After volunteering at the St. John's Well Child and Family Clinic, I have been seriously pursuing a career in public health dentistry and ASDOH seems like the perfect school for this focus.
There are also cons to attending ASDOH. My main fear of attending ASDOH is leaving a vibrant urban city for a more suburban area. As a 21 year old, it's hard to leave Los Angeles and settle in a place like Mesa, Arizona. And to leave behind my family and network of friends in Los Angeles seems implausible. Would it be foolish to walk away from the extensive network I have already established within the USC School of Dentistry?

ASDOH also seems to cater to a more mature and older population of students. My tour guide was a second year dental student who was married with three kids. Even with a small class size of approximately 70 students, there was a sizable amount of students in the class who were married and settled. This terrifies me - at 21 years, I'm not ready to settle down yet. I want to be able to hang out with a large cohort of single students late at night or during the weekend. I want to have fun during dental school and have a fulfilling experience. I want to potentially find my husband or bridesmaids in dental school.

At the end of the day, these worries are probably unfounded and insignificant. The biggest obstacle standing in my way for ASDOH is the fact that during the interview on February 21, they informed us that there was only 2 spots in the Class of 2016 available. So there's probably a high possibility that I won't get accepted to the school anyways.

Song of the Day
Hot Summer Night - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Friday, February 24, 2012

University of the Pacific Update

I received a call this morning from the University of the Pacific informing me that I have been placed on their alternate list. Though this should be rather depressing news to most, it's not a really big revelation for  me. I had gone to the University of the Pacific interview knowing that I was vying for a spot on the alternate list. Though it was a little bit of a shock to me that despite my less than stellar interview there, they selected me for a spot on the alternate list. Does everyone who interview automatically get placed on the alternate list?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

University of the Pacific School of Dentistry Interview

I'm lying in bed with a fever as I type this entry, the events of the past few days clearly taking a toll on my body. Between the early morning flight to San Francisco on 4 hours of sleep, the late night flight back to Los Angeles, dealing with a depleted treasury for our pre-dental society due to embezzlement, and attempting to study for my Exercise and Energy Homeostasis midterm this weekend, I am truly exhausted. I got back from San Francisco last night around midnight on Monday, took a midterm this morning at 9:30am, and then knocked out for the rest of the day until lab at 5pm. I haven't felt this burnt out since high school. Perhaps this is a preview of how draining the University of the Pacific Dental School curriculum feels?

I flew into San Francisco a day early in order to scope out the terrain and get accustomed to the BART system. What I love about the Bay Area is that it has a functional public transit system, unlike Los Angeles. Fortunately, I arrived the day before my interview to learn how to use the BART because the first thing that I did as soon as I arrived in San Francisco was take the BART in the completely WRONG DIRECTION. I learned that Millbrae is a southbound train that will never get me to Downtown Berkeley...

Since any type of lodging in San Francisco is prohibitively expensive, I was lucky to be able to crash at my friend's place at Berkeley for the night. It was rather nostalgic - getting off at the Downtown Berkeley BART station and walking across Shattuck towards the university campus. It reminded me of Cal Day four years ago, when I visited the school as a prospective student. I remember the abnormally warm weather that April day, my trek across Berkeley's massive campus, and hanging out with high school friends (all of whom are now UC Berkeley students). I ultimately chose to attend USC over UC Berkeley, a decision that my parents vehemently opposed at the time.
This time around, the weather in San Francisco was less welcoming. The oncoming wind was cold and frigid while the sudden downpour took me by surprise as I exited the BART station at Embarcadero and began the 2-block trek to the bus stop. I started sprinting, with my four inch heels and interview suit, from building to building in order to stay dry. Seriously, what would happen if I showed up at the interview drenched from head to toe?
However, the warmth and hospitality of the dental students completely eclipsed the gloom of San Francisco winters. Since I arrived at the campus an hour early, I had some time to sit in the cafeteria and chat with current second year dental students. They warned me about the insane pace of the curriculum, about getting little to no sleep the first year in dental school, and about not getting time off to study for the NBDE exams. Yet between all of the serious stuff, you could tell that they were a lighthearted and happy bunch, genuine in their personality and not above sneaking in a joke here or there. If dental school were purely a social scene, I definitely see myself fitting in better with the students at UoP than at the dental school that I have been accepted to.
Though I LOVE how happy and enthusiastic the dental students are about their school, the three year curriculum secretly terrifies me. I don't understand why people want to rush through dental school in order to start their career. Perhaps I don't understand it because I'm naive and only 21 years of age. But don't we have the rest of our lives ahead of us to be a dentist? Why is there such a big rush to graduate early?

I find it really interesting that USC and UoP have such different dynamics. While dental students at USC have an overabundance of free time (especially during their first semester), students at UoP are taking 25+ units a quarter and barely have enough time to sleep.

The University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry is also planning to move to brand new facilities in the summer of 2014, which I'm excited about. The new facility is more spacious, modernized, and is located within a block of a BART station. Plus, it's not in Pacific Heights so apartments don't cost an arm and a leg. If you thought housing was expensive in Los Angeles, it is nothing compared to real estate in San Francisco.

My student interview was not much of an interview. It turned out that the student who was interviewing me was actually a USC-alumni who graduated two years ago. We were in the same pre-dental honor society when I was elected secretary and she was working as the community outreach director. Naturally, we spent the hour of the student interview catching up with each other.

My faculty interview, on the other hand, felt like an ongoing cycle of shooting myself in the foot. I was completely caught off guard when he asked me to explain why there was such a large difference between my QR score (19) and my inorganic chemistry score (26) on the DAT. I didn't really think a 19 was a score that merited an explanation at the time so I basically mumble-jumbled some answer on the spot. Looking back, I could have been significantly more coherent with my answer and painted a better picture of myself in terms of my DAT score and my grades. But alas, this is an interview experience that I will have to learn from.

The admission counselors informed us that we would hear back about our status in approximately 2-3 weeks. While it's a school that I would love to garner an acceptance from, I'm not banking too heavily on my chances here. They were pretty straightforward telling me that this was an interview for an alternate position (most of their February interviews are for alternate positions). Since UoP is rather popular among prospective dental students, I feel like the alternate list is going to move pretty slowly this year. But I'll keep my fingers crossed and wait!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Magnetic iPhone Camera Lenses!

Buy the Fisheye, Macro, Wide Angle and Telephoto Phone Lenses at the Photojojo Store!

I don't like to advertise things on my blog and I try to refrain from converting this (semi-professional) blog into a Tumblr-like slew of reposts.

But WOW! I couldn't resist posting this. You know, ever since I got my iPhone, I have largely stopped taking DSLR photos in favor of iPhone photos. The iPhone camera is light, portable, convenient, and totally not awkward in most situations. Plus, iPhone automatically syncs my photos via iCloud to my iPhoto gallery. Yes, there are inherent limitations with photo composition and picture quality with an iPhone camera. But now they are selling wide angle, macro, telephoto, and fisheye lenses for the iPhone! I definitely have to get my hands on these!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What the Future Holds, Who Knows?

I was sitting in my Exercise and Energy Homeostasis lecture this morning when the academic advisor of the kinesiology department, Laura, walked into our classroom. She was going over the logistics of graduation which, believe it or not, is taking place in approximately 3 months. And then it hit me - I am graduating soon.

Somehow, graduation seems daunting and terrifying to me. I don't particularly like goodbyes. In my mind, graduation is like the finale - the last curtain call where all of the lights are on you and everyone in the audience is applauding. You say your last goodbye and then slowly, the curtains fall into place, the stagelights darken, and the room becomes silent, empty. The end.

I never really thought of this graduation as the end of my time at USC. I mean, it's not guaranteed but it is a definite possibility now. One week ago, I was certain that I was going to be part of the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry Class of 2016. I was going to be back on this campus next August, donning the white coat and attending all of the home football games. But after a call from University of the Pacific and an email from ASDOH, my future is quite uncertain. I don't know where I will be when the new school year starts? Will I still be at USC? Will I be in San Francisco? Or maybe in Mesa, Arizona? It terrifies me knowing that these three months may be my last in Los Angeles.

Just keep moving forward. Everything will be alright, I tell myself.

The future, here I come.