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October Student Spotlight

October 01, 2021 1606

Quick Summary:

Get to know CDA’s October Student Spotlight Samantha Garcia from UCSF School of Dentistry class of 2024. Samantha discusses why she's decided to join the Army Dental Corps after dental school.

Describe your experience as a dental student during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most of our didactic learning takes place over zoom. I appreciate the creativity of the faculty at UCSF in using breakout rooms and small group activities, as it has helped me create relationships with fellow classmates. I also look forward to the days that I go to the simulation lab. After doing my daily health screening questionnaire, I am able to learn and practice my hand skills in person, while remaining socially distanced along with my peers.

Have your career aspirations changed due to COVID-19? 

For the most part, my career aspirations have stayed relatively constant. Since I don’t take as much time to commute to and from school, I have used this extra time to enjoy extracurriculars, electives and lunch-and-learns to expand my interests. For instance, this quarter I am taking an interprofessional course in writing as a health professional. It is an engaging and creative space to be in, and I have the opportunity to connect with other students from the medical, pharmacy, physical therapy and nursing schools as well. 

What has been the most surprising thing about dental school? 

I was pleasantly surprised at how interwoven the curriculum is. For example, a topic in a didactic class reinforces why a certain step must be done during a procedure. Throughout undergrad, each class was treated as separate and it was sometimes difficult to appreciate the significance of why we had to learn different subjects. Now, everything is relevant, and it makes the learning process more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

What are you most looking forward to after dental school? 

After dental school I will be going on to join the Army Dental Corps as an officer. I have always had a passion for public health and service. Through the Army, not only am I able to serve my country, but I am able to deliver quality care to soldiers in need without regard to limitations like dental insurance. 

How do you relax after a long day at school? 

Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to learn how to cook. I love trying new recipes and making warm, wholesome meals. Of course, I always have room for dessert, which I enjoy curled up with a hot cup of tea and a good book. 

What is your favorite comfort food? 

As a Filipina-American, I love comfort food. I grew up eating my mom’s sinigang, a sour, savory stew full of vegetables and meat, and it is still one of my favorite dishes to this day. I especially like to have it during the winter months because it has that extra something that warms and nourishes my body and mind.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time? 

I would read more. Nowadays, I usually only get to read a little bit right before bed, but with extra time, I would try to expand the genres of books that I read. San Francisco is a wonderful city in that there are so many local bookstores and I would like to take my time to explore all of them! 

Why are you #cdaproud? 

CDA’s values of service, inclusiveness, respect, education and integrity is everything that I seek to be as a future dentist. In addition, CDA is the largest state association in the ADA and has been serving for 150 years. As a newcomer to the dental profession and a native Californian, it is exciting to be a part of an organization like this.