“We’re so busy, but a lot of students will even go as far as creating an opportunity to get involved where one doesn’t already exist. This is something that’s unique to Pacific.”
Even before attending dental school, Class of 2013 student Danielle Marquis was no stranger to the dental profession. Her parents are both dentists in Fulton, Mississippi, the small town of about 4,000 people where Danielle was raised. While she admired her parent's successful practice and their role in the community, Danielle originally had no interest in following in their footsteps and pursuing dentistry.
Following her graduation from Yale where she earned a BA in psychology, Danielle was living in New York City, working at J. Crew's corporate office and pondering her next career move. She toyed with the idea of nonprofit work as well pursuing an artistic career. However, the dental profession kept calling to her, especially when she realized dentistry could allow for creativity and would satisfy her desire to improve communities.
"At that time I was exploring my options, shadowing people and learning as much as I could about a lot of different professions," says Danielle. "Then one day I called up my mom and said 'I think I want to be a dentist.' The decision came from really spending a lot of time exploring what kind of career I wanted."
So Danielle started researching dental schools all over the country. And while she wasn't originally familiar with the Dugoni School of Dentistry, she quickly put it at the top of her list of potential schools.
"I must have read every page of the web site," she says. "I was so intrigued by the humanistic model and the school's leaders. Then I realized it was a three-year program and was even more interested."
Once Danielle interviewed at the Dugoni School, she says she realized there was no other dental school she truly wanted. After a day of meeting with faculty, students and potential future classmates, she says she was very impressed with how friendly and happy everyone seemed.
"My mind was made up at that point," she says. "I even canceled two other interviews and flights I had scheduled when I found out I got into Pacific Dugoni."
Since joining the Pacific family, Danielle has been highly involved in organized dentistry and student leadership. She served as the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) class representative during her first year of dental school, and then transitioned into the role of the school's ADSA chapter president during her second year. Most recently Danielle was elected to the role of ASDA District 11 Trustee by her dental school peers from throughout California.
"In my role as trustee I have a fiduciary responsibility to ASDA, and I serve as a resource to the chapter presidents at all six California dental schools," she explains. "Some of my duties are to help the chapter presidents plan events and secure resources, as well as to provide advice and information from ASDA. I'll also be planning the District 11 meeting which will take place in the fall."
In her leadership roles Danielle frequently interacts with students from all over the country, and she mentions that she sees some aspects of student life at Pacific that set it apart. Most notably she's observed that students at Pacific tend to be very encouraging of each other and would rather help their classmates succeed than engage in negative competition.
"There's a lot of sharing of resources here. My classmates regularly send out study guides and notes to help each other, and I've heard that doesn't happen at most other schools," she says.
Something else that sets Pacific apart, she says, is that students are really interested in getting involved with extracurricular activities. From leadership positions and organized dentistry, to community outreach, school events and more, there are plenty of chances to get involved and students tend do so.
"It's surprising that so many people want to be involved, mostly because we're a three-year program and so busy. But a lot of students will even go as far as creating an opportunity to get involved where one doesn't already exist," says Danielle. "We've had students start clubs, programs, fundraisers and outreach activities. I think this is something that's unique to our school."
While Danielle has demanding months ahead with her final year of dental school and ASDA trustee position, she's still finding time to prepare for her future. After school she'll be doing a general practice residency to gain more hospital dentistry experience, and she's also exploring the idea of a pediatric residency. She plans to remain involved with her community and organized dentistry.
"Organized dentistry is something that has always interested me, even back when I was researching schools," she says. "I've had a lot of different ideas about what I'd like to pursue after school is over, but staying involved with organized dentistry is something I've remained certain about."
School, leadership roles and future career decisions aside, Danielle has recently gotten engaged and will be getting married at the end of 2012, to one of her dental school classmates. Considering how convinced she was initially that dentistry was not going to be her life's path, that path has certainly changed!