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Taking a Leap of Faith For a Better Life

D2 Student Gabriella Gonzalez is driven by a desire to help underserved communities

Pursuing a career in dentistry was a leap of faith. It was a leap of faith because I had to believe in myself to do something that has never been done in my family history before. This was the same leap of faith my dad took when he immigrated to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Jalisco at 14 years old. He decided to stay in the U.S. because he liked the education and opportunities he received while in school.

With this in mind, I always felt so grateful to be able to attend school and participate in extracurriculars. In high school, I became extremely involved in the Health Occupations Students of America organization which allowed me to shadow and research a variety of healthcare professions. During this process, I realized a career in dentistry was everything I’d been looking for. It was a profession that would allow me to become a lifelong learner while building meaningful relationships with my community and improving their overall health. I received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Medical Chemistry.

While attending undergrad, I worked at the School of Medicine for a federally funded program that provided free medical and transportation services to low-income, older adults in need of assistance. Many of these older adults were on Medicaid, Medicare, or had no medical insurance benefits at all. Working closely with these individuals for four years gave me a passion for serving underserved communities. This greatly influenced my decision to attend the University of Utah School of Dentistry because the school is the primary provider for Adult Medicaid Dental Benefit patients in the state of Utah. The program also allows dental students to begin providing care to patients as early as the second year of dental school. With this information, I knew I would be able to make the greatest oral health impact on the community at the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

The school is also only a few hours away from my family in Elko, NV, making it easy to travel home for the holidays and spend time with those who have always supported me throughout this journey. I have loved my time learning about dentistry these past two years and I am so glad that I took a leap of faith!

D2 Student Gabriella Gonzalez