January Student Spotlight

January 7, 2022
Quick Summary:
Get to know CDA’s January 2022 Student Spotlight, Jay Patel from UCLA School of Dentistry Class of 2025. He highlights his proudest dental school accomplishment and how it opened his eyes to the vital role dentists play in saving lives. 

What’s been one of the biggest adjustments for you as a dental student during the pandemic?

I am an extremely social person, but it is very easy for me to let work consume me. Somedays I would interact with humans for five minutes. The pandemic taught me that when I socialize, I protect my mental health. Sometimes even a half-hour call with an old friend can put me in amazing mood.

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

The Psi Omega Tailgate at USC was incredible. I never would have thought of joining a dental fraternity but UCLA Psi Omega is different. The co-ed fraternity is fun, exciting and safe. The USC tailgate was a great way for me to meet not only upper classmen but students from other schools. I know we are rivals, but thank you for hosting us, USC Psi O!

What’s something you’ve accomplished in dental school that you’re proud of?

I recently had the opportunity to help assist with a tumor resection. It felt amazing to get hands-on experience and put didactics into practice. Witnessing oral surgery teaches you that dentistry is truly medicine and that dentists play a vital role in detecting cancer and saving lives.

What’s one thing about dental school you wish your friends who aren’t in dental school could understand?

Dental school is not only challenging but the load is variable. Some weeks are rough and some weeks are easier. Dental students may not be free this weekend or next, but if you’re patient with us, we will make the time!

Has a current dental school professor made a positive impact on you? What would you like to say to them?

Dr. Clarice Law really helped me get through a rough patch during my first quarter. I was adjusting to the workload of dental school and it was difficult at first for me to figure out when I was studying too much or too little. The best advice she gave me was to adjust my expectations and be patient. Dr. Law, you were absolutely right. Thank you for supporting students not just professionally but personally! 

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received?

"Good times become good memories, but bad times make good lessons." – Uncle Iroh

If you had a day off from school to spend any way you choose, what would you do?

I have always wanted to go jet skiing or skydiving. Afterward, I would work out and eat Korean BBQ. I would finish off the day by watching the sunset with my dog.

Why are you #cdaproud?

I am #cdaproud because CDA constantly innovates and advocates for practicing excellent dentistry. In an airplane emergency, parents put on their own air masks first, which allows them to protect their kids. Likewise, dentists should learn how the CDA “air mask” can protect them and, in turn, protect their patients.


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