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Get to know CDA’s January Student Spotlight, Leah Life from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry class of 2020.
What has been your favorite dental school moment or experience so far?
Although dental school has already provided me with many incredible experiences, my favorite has been organizing two outreach trips to Jamaica. Over two years, our leadership team brought 120 students and faculty to Jamaica, enabling us to care for over 2,307 patients. It was an eye-opening, humbling experience — and helped me further understand how impactful dental care can be to a community. It was an honor to co-lead this trip, and it’s one of the highlights of my dental school career thus far.
What are you most looking forward to after dental school?
After graduating, I'm looking forward to developing my own practice philosophy. At dental school, we have the opportunity to learn from and work with different members of faculty — and they have a wide range of opinions on the best way to treat patients. Every time you work on a comprehensive treatment plan in dental school, you could encounter five completely different plans from five different faculty members. I've learned so much from having such a diverse faculty, and I am excited to hone my instincts and develop my approach as a practitioner. I look forward to bringing those beliefs into practice and providing the best possible care for my future patients.
What made you interested in dentistry?
My interest in dentistry was sparked at a young age — my dad is a general dentist in Massachusetts and I used to go into his office all the time to "play" on the dental chairs. I really enjoyed the recline function of the chairs as a young kid; apparently, I was easily entertained. One day at the office, I fell off the chair and hit the floor, teeth first. True story. And if I wasn’t already intrigued with my dad’s profession, I definitely was after both primary central incisors abscessed and I was left without two front teeth for two years. Years later, I majored in both studio art and biology at Georgetown University, and I realized that dentistry could be the perfect way for me to combine my passion for both science and art, as well as caring for others.
How do you relax after a long day at school?
I go home and play with my dog Baylor for a while. He’s a three-year-old cockapoo, my favorite companion. Walking, playing and spending time with him is easily the best way to relax. After relaxing with Baylor and eating dinner, a few times a week I teach classes at Rumble Boxing — a boxing-inspired, full-body strength and training fitness studio.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Mac and cheese with hot dogs. Hands-down. No competition. Plus ketchup. Don't judge me.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Even if I didn’t have to sleep, I would still sleep ... one of my favorite activities is napping.
How has your life changed in the past year?
My life has actually changed a lot in the past year! Before dental school, I was a SoulCycle instructor. I continued to teach SoulCycle classes for the first two years of dental school — until I decided to hop off the bike for good in June. That’s when I started to teach boxing at Rumble Boxing, which means I've been training for a new job while also studying. Another change in my personal life: My sister Lindsay got engaged this year, and I've taken on the responsibility of being her maid of honor. Fortunately, she hasn't been a bridezilla yet — smooth sailing so far! And of course, in school, we’re in the clinic almost full time, which has been incredible. I love spending my days with patients and learning something new every clinic session.
Why are you #cdaproud?
I am #cdaproud because I believe that to be successful you need to be surrounded by a strong team. I have a close family unit, I've been on sports teams my whole life and now teach group fitness classes, so I know the power of bettering others and how that teamwork in return betters yourself. CDA is the largest dental society in the American Dental Association and provides resources, education opportunities and support to all of its members. This type of support is invaluable as a future dentist, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of the team.