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Get to know CDA’s February Student Spotlight, Shannon Walker from the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry class of 2023.
What made you choose this school over all the others?
UCSF has always been the pinnacle of excellence I’ve always hoped to achieve. When I was in high school, I attended the Osher Mini Medical School at UCSF and fell in love with the environment of learning and caring it embodies. From the students of various fields to the attendings and researchers, each person strives to be better for both themselves and for others. It is a place of innovation and compassion.
What is your favorite guilty-pleasure movie or TV series?
My favorite guilty-pleasure movie is “Love Actually.” Even if it is not the holiday season, you can probably find me curled up crying at the scene of Keira Knightley being read the poster cards from the man in love with her at the doorstep. I’ll be honest, I spend the movie equally giggling and crying.
How do you relax after a long day at school?
When I’m not at school, I love to be outside, regardless of the activity. I enjoy hiking and backpacking, spending time snowboarding in the mountains during winter and running on the beach in the summer. I love exploring new places with friends and family.
How has your life changed in the past year?
I earned my master’s degree in global medicine at the end of 2018 at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. After graduating, I went on to work as a full-time dental assistant in Portland, Oregon, for my cousin who is a dentist there. To be able to work alongside someone who has mentored me through this entire process was such a blessing. I was able to see more into the field of organized dentistry firsthand, which was a huge factor in my joining CDA. I even got to attend the ADA’s annual conference in Honolulu, Hawaii!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? How do you apply it to your life?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is from my mom. When I was growing up she always emphasized, “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I have found this to be so true, as my journey as taken me into the dental field. I find myself re-energized and reinspired on almost a daily basis through meeting new mentors, sharing the struggle with my classmates or learning my first tooth preparations. It is by no means easy, but I find it so rewarding no matter how exhausted I am at the end of the day. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have found a profession I love so much.
What advice can you offer on how to succeed in dental school?
My best advice on how to succeed in dental school is to come with an open mind and be ready to embrace opportunities. Try not to be too overwhelmed by all the possibilities that flood in within the first few weeks. I have learned to slow down and enjoy the process in the moment more and have begun to embrace the present more because of it. There will always be another test, another club to join or event to attend. Only bite off what you can chew! You want to be able to enjoy the process rather than stress about it the whole time.
What do you do to find balance and stay healthy through dental school?
I am a huge proponent of keeping a balanced lifestyle that supports both your mind and your body. For me, exercise and being outdoors is what keeps me sane. If I’m not at school, you will find me at the gym, walking around Golden Gate Park or running along the beach. I’ve found the best way to get to know the area is to walk a different way home each time. I have found lots of my new favorite restaurants and bars that way!
Why are you #cdaproud?
I am #cdaproud because it is an organization that holds such respect, not only within the dental community but statewide as well. As an institution, it advocates for each and every Californian, patient and dentist alike. CDA has a powerful influence that it uses to promote the wellbeing of others. I am proud to become a part of an organization that has done so much good for the field.