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June Student Spotlight

June 03, 2020 6133
CDA Student Spotlight

Get to know CDA’s June Student Spotlight, Pardis Vakili from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, class of 2022.

Get to know CDA’s June Student Spotlight, Pardis Vakili from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, class of 2022.

Have your career aspirations changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

My career aspirations have not changed at all due to the pandemic. If anything, it just reaffirms that I made the correct decision to be in this field. I don't know what my final path is going to be in the dental field, but I do know that dental professionals are going to be needed more than ever.

A lot of people are going to need dental work of all specialties/areas after months of nonurgent dental care being postponed. On top of that, this pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs and therefore their health/dental insurance. They are going to be seeking affordable dental care at places such as dental schools and community clinics.

This is such a unique time for us as students beginning our clinical education this summer as we will be providing a great service to many people in need. It’s exciting and I can't wait to put my education and training to good use for the public. 

What does dental school look like under the stay-at-home order?

In a time where we have seen almost everything stop, our education seemed to go forward in an extra gear. We front-loaded our didactic classes for the spring quarter into five weeks in hopes that if we return in June, we will be only catching up on clinical and preclinical work. My first-year class usually had about 7-8 hours of lecture a day, and then we would have to study or work on countless numbers of projects and presentations.

We had 16 exams since the stay-at-home order started. It has been overwhelming at times, but we have learned a lot and grown as future dental professionals. After 17 straight weeks of school, we have earned a much-deserved four weeks off before we go back into the lab. It is time to catch up on some sleep! 

What made you interested in dentistry?

I always thought I was going to be an NBA basketball player, but that dream slowly faded away when I realized I wasn't good at basketball. When I was a kid, I had close to seven years of orthodontic work done and it transformed me completely into a new person. It helped turn me from a shy kid into the outgoing (sometimes loud) person that I am today. I then had the pleasure of going through numerous oral surgeries, root canals, crowns and fillings.

You could tell that all the doctors genuinely cared about me as a patient and all of them really loved their job. One day it just clicked that I wanted to change lives, just like they had done for me. This really is my dream job, and I am so thankful to be in this profession. 

What has been your favorite dental school moment or experience so far?

Dental school has been such a crazy experience already with so many great memories made in such a short period of time. I think my favorite part of dental school so far has been all the amazing people I have met in my class. They are all so smart and talented and they push me to work harder and be a better person. Some of my favorite times this past year have been after hours in the Sim Lab, just laughing and having fun with my classmates while we get our lab work done. 

What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure movie or TV series?

Easily the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I think this is probably true for half of my class. The morning after a new episode, you can catch all of us gossiping about it in Sim Lab. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

Spoonfuls of Nutella, straight out of the jar. It's probably the reason I don't have a six-pack.

How has your life changed in the past year?

So much has changed in just one year. After a year of rejections from dental schools, I finally got in! Not only did I get an acceptance, it was at the school I dreamed of going to since I first wanted to be a dentist a decade ago. I packed up and moved back to Northern California from my home of five years in Arizona.

School has pushed me to limits I didn't think I had, and I have a lot less time to just relax. The craziest thing is that I have not been bored for a single day since this journey has started, which reminds me that I chose the right profession. I've made so many new lifelong friendships in such a short period of time. This year has had so many ups and downs, but I've grown a lot as a person. I'm looking forward to seeing life change even more in the next year. 

Why are you #cdaproud?

I am CDA proud because this organization continues to fight for our profession and our students even during a pandemic. CDA is working tirelessly for solutions for our graduating students seeking accreditation and continues to push for manikin-based exams. I know the organization is also working with the state and all the dental schools closely to help outline a safe plan to return to school as soon as possible. CDA has also provided many free C.E. resources, allowing us to continue expanding our knowledge while at home. I know students are eager to get back to school and working, and we all appreciate the work that CDA and our school are putting in to provide a safe return to our education. These are not easy times, but it is nice to have such a strong backing from an amazing organization like CDA.