I have grown up in a close-knit family that included extended family members who lived nearby. Almost all weekends were family gatherings. My grandfather believed in keeping his family close. It was also the reason why we all lived near each other. To my grandfather, the family was the most important unit in any persons life. My passion for oral medicine perhaps came about due to the significant number of individuals in my family who were in the same field or related careers. For instance, my grandfather was an orthodontist, my great uncle and my first cousin are dentists, and I have two cousins who are dental hygienists.
My life story is mostly written in Harlingen, Texas. I grew up in a small Hispanic community close to the US-Mexico border. Despite being surrounded by people who were predominantly Hispanic, we were a minority group in the overall region. I have to give credit to my general environment for contributing to my life education and the growth of my personality. Cultural life in Harlingen was full of conflicts. Despite being a minority group in the area, my entire family was well determined to keep our traditions intact regardless of what others thought. For me, it created a personal identity crisis. On the one hand, I wanted to fit in and shed off my Hispanic background. On the other hand, I wanted to maintain my identity as a Hispanic individual.
Being a minority helped me understand what it felt like to be on the weaker side regarding influence and numbers. It made me appreciate everyone regardless of their position in society. Watching my parents and grandparents make a name for themselves in the local community through the field of medicine made me realize that despite any differences, I can succeed. At times I feel bad that I did not grow up in an even more challenging environment. I had relatives who faced real struggles every day, but my type of resilience and determination do not stem from life struggles.
Instead, my drive comes from my desire not to face lifes adversities and challenges. I am not blind to the fact that hard work and resolve are essential to my educational and career successes. I believe that in life, one has to choose a struggle. I decide to struggle to make a name for myself in the field of dentistry and academic medicine. My other belief is that by striving to excel in one area of life, one can avoid the difficulties that arise from other aspects of life. I have seen the struggles of other people with poverty and the lack of necessities. Thus, my educational drive serves as an insurance policy against lifes other difficulties.
At times, it is hard for people to admit that their core goals in choosing a particular line of work, is security. It is easy for most people to admit to one part and forget that there is more to life than passion. I have witnessed first-hand, the effects of poverty and lifes difficulties. Why would I wish that upon myself? Even those who live in sprawling conditions would most likely seek to change their lives if given a chance. I do make my claim with a significant degree of certainty arising from my previous life experiences.
Despite my desire to not become one of lifes cliches, I have to admit to having a genuine care for the well-being of humanity. Not that I have expressed otherwise. Perhaps, caring for others is innate to all humans. I have the feeling that ones life is measured by what one do for others. Why not make a career out of helping others? Proverbs 3:27 says, Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to act.
My desire and ability to do good are what I consider to be my talent. This entails being kind to people, giving others a listening ear, and being mindful of their well-being without taking into account their background, social status, or level of acquaintanceship. I believe that God gave me compassion, intuition, and a desire to help others, so that I may do his will.
In my daily life, I find myself driven by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Extrinsically, I am motivated by security. Intrinsically, I am driven by the desire to make my life meaningful and to have a positive impact on others. It is this intrinsic motivation that I believe to be important not only in my life but in pushing many people to achieve their goals and dreams. If one cannot appreciate and love what they do, then they will have no motivation to pursue their progress to fruition.
All this goes back to the type of norms and cultures that existed within my environment. First, I will talk about my mothers influence. Second, I will talk about my religious convictions. Third, I will bring up my experience with people living in poverty and hardship. Lastly, I will write about my personal beliefs and drives.
My mother is my role model. I have spent most of my life trying to be like her. She is a warm and approachable person. It is hard to say anything unpleasant about her. Perhaps that is why she worked as the Director of Customer Service at Valley Baptist Hospital. At times, I would shadow her in the hospital as she went about her activities. Her job entailed teaching hospital workers to be professional and to offer patients and other clients with an exceptional in-hospital experience. My mother made me realize just how important a patients experience was to their recovery. She emphasized on proper care and communication
All of my moms colleagues and clients would approach her with ease. Her technique was to always show kindness, respect, and compassion for other people and it worked for her. She made her career seem flawless. Her customer service training manuals and reports contained principles such as respecting a patients time, showing compassion, engaging a client, building trust, creating a safe space, and providing value added services. However, I could tell that at times work was stressful. She had the innate ability and desire to be kind to others, but it did not apply to everyone else within the hospital. At times employees would break communication and etiquette protocols, and in some situations, unruly patients would test the patience of hospital staff. Despite all the hardships, she went to work every day with a smile. As such, she is my benchmark on how to relate and treat others. After all, I all want to be like the best.
The second most influential element in my life is religion. Religion has been the key pillar of conduct in my life. Religion acts as my moral compass. I have been brought up in a Catholic home. From an early age, family members imparted Christianity into my life and made sure that I attended Sunday school lessons. As I grew up, and especially during my teenage years, I experienced a lot of conflict with my religious life. This was also the same period when I was having cultural conflicts and trying to find an identity for myself.
I attended Calvary Christian School which as the name says, was a predominantly Christian school. At a young age, following the rules without questioning them was easy and most if not all the children in that school were Christians. However, once I left Calvary Christian School after the eighth grade, I encountered a different atmosphere that required rapid adaptation. The rules and religious frameworks from my former school did not apply in my new settings. These incidences of internal conflict with my religion and culture played a significant role in my understanding of the world. I interacted with people whose religious upbringing was virtually non-existent and others associated themselves as Christians but did little to show it.
High school meant drawing a line between my beliefs and those of others without creating internal or external conflict. For me, that meant using avoidance tactics. If I was uncomfortable engaging in a particular activity, I would excuse myself. It also meant having discussions in a manner that did not offend anyone. It may seem like a lot of work to engage in politically correct speech, but I found it easy through the use of small talk. I had seen my mother use it during conversations with her colleagues or client. She would choose a topic that she viewed to be neutral and talk about it. Even touchy subjects were addressed in non-offensive ways. This did not mean that I would compromise on what I felt was right or wrong.
Furthermore, interacting with persons of different socio-cultural settings meant that I had to appreciate the differences that exist between myself and others. Acknowledging other peoples differences involves identifying the elements that make one different from another. Instead of viewing the differences as a problem, I see the differences as an opportunity to learn more about others and to understand their uniqueness. Such an approach has been critical in the development of my interpersonal skills which I am sure will be useful in my future practice should I become a dentist. Additionally, my interactions with other individuals have led to the alteration of my perception of humanity and the understanding of human behavior. In other words, I have learned to develop an open mind towards new experiences and relating better with others.
My third experience in life that has contributed to the person I am today, and which will also be important in my practice, is my experience with individuals who have lived a life without the basics. This is another aspect of my life where I have to thank my mother for her influence. I cannot tell if it is her work or personality or a combination of both, but mother always made time to work for shelter homes. It was always an incredible opportunity to go downtown on Wednesdays during lunch with her. Mother would then hand out little Caesar pizzas with a bottle of ice-cold water to the needy who had lined up. The feeling of helping someone who cannot give you anything in return is heartwarming, to say the least.
Moreover, I had the life-changing privilege of working with LiveBeyond in Haiti to help victims of the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. In Harlingen, the challenges faced by homeless persons concerning their living conditions and the environment, pales in comparison to the situation in Haiti. The earthquake had leveled off most of Port-au-Prince, the capital. People lived in temporary structures that were made of polyethylene bags and sticks. The tents that had been issued by agencies such as the Red Cross and the UN were holding scores of people who huddled in droves. Listening to their ordeals was heart-wrenching. They would narrate how they watched their entire families die and their livelihoods destroyed. Each story was sadder than the previous one. These were people who showed so much gratitude when I would hand them a bottle of water let alone food. At that moment, I realized just how easy it was to be addicted to helping others. It is almost like a rush of kindness that did not come from the gratitude but the giving. My time in Haiti was an experience that one can neither buy nor recreate.
The last element in my life that drove me towards the field of medicine was my internal drive. I love science-based subjects. Since high school, I always had a knack for doing science based subjects and solving related problems. I find academic and professional fields that make use of science to be enthralling and with the best opportunity to learn new and exciting information every day.
My interest in science has been greatly helped by the education discipline that was imparted to me by my tutors during my time at Calvary Christian School. Initially, I never liked the voluminous assignments and the extensive research papers that we were expected to work on. However, as time went by, I developed an appreciation for the intensive education that I went through. When I joined college, I realized that some of the skills that I learned at Cal...
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