Hi, and welcome back to the #STEMBabes series!
During this series, I will be featuring a woman doing cool things in her own STEM-related field. This is in the hopes that they will be able to answer any questions you might have about navigating the world of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering as a female. There are so many girls succeeding and truly making a difference in their respective industries, and I hope getting to know some of them better will help/inspire/motivate girls out there who are getting ready to embark on a similar path.
For this installment, I had the opportunity to interview one of my friends, Saloni! She graduated college a year early (!!!!) and is off to dental school in the fall. Saloni inspires me constantly, and I’m excited to share her story with all of you.
1. Name, Age, Major, Graduation Date?
My name is Saloni Patel and I was an Biology major in the class of 2019! I matriculate in dental school this coming August.
2. What drew you to Dentistry? Is there another major you once considered?
I knew I wanted to go into healthcare for the ability to interact with and help communities on a daily basis. I honed in on dentistry specifically after I started my orthodontic treatment (a common gateway into dentistry for most current dental professionals). I started shadowing my general family dentist, a local periodontist and of course my orthodontist. This exposure truly showed me what a blessing a career in healthcare is. I learned skills from bedside manner to building strong patient-doctor relationships to managing paperwork (list goes on). There was an entire world of dentistry that went into running a successful and meaningful practice and I only knew this with hundreds of hours of shadowing and after working with doctors through my tissue culture research project.
I did graduate with a major in biology and I have always considered doing chemistry or biochemistry. The first science class in high school that I truly fell in love with (here comes the inner nerd) was chemistry and – not sure why – but it just made sense to me. In order to best cover my requirements for dental school applications, I pursued a biology major and took various chemistry electives to fulfill other interests of mine.
3. What was it like trying to balance a extracurriculars and running a dental blog with your coursework? Do you have any regrets from your undergrad?
Personally, I have always felt the need to be busy and wish to put 101% into everything I do. With that mentality, I entered undergrad ready to take on as many meaningful opportunities on as possible. I joined the dance team (with Kat!), became a published tissue engineering researcher, attended various professional conferences, became president of Pre-Dental society, worked a tutor and tour guide, and honestly just dipped my toes into a bunch of other university affiliations. After attending the ASDA leadership conference, I was inspired to start writing a pseudo-blog if you will. (Find Saloni at @smilesbysaloni on Instagram)! I aim to highlight other dental professional and just document my journey through this career, hoping to make some smiles along the way. I was best able to manage these aspirations for mine through planning, and tons of it! I keep an agenda to my short and long term goals so I am always reminded of my academic and personal objectives. With that being said, my only regret of undergrad is not starting to use google calendars earlier 🙂
4. What has your experience was a woman in STEM been like? Do you think you’re ever treated differently because of your gender?
As a woman in STEM I have had to find my opportunities for myself, i.e. not being spoon fed the accomplishments I wished to achieve. In 2019 I would say women are starting to get a voice to speak up in the workforce (and even as students) to make sure we get equal chances. I believe many fields in STEM (I think I can best speak for healthcare) are male-dominated and I personally have had to make a name for myself as a pre-dental to get the attention of other professionals. Honestly though I think if you can make a strong resume with meaningful experiences, your name will stand out and your opportunities in a STEM career can flourish. We are pretty blessed to be in this age of rising women; thus I plan to stand with my fellow #STEMbabes in making the most positive change possible.
As a woman in STEM I have had to find my opportunities for myself, i.e. not being spoon fed the accomplishments I wished to achieve.
Concluding Remarks & Thanks!:
“Tooth” be told #STEMbabes has been a wonderful inspiration for me as a rising dental student. Just wanted to acknowledge my gratitude for Katrina, allowing me to share my voice on her platform (coolest #STEMbabe I know).
Best regards to all aspiring men and women in STEM!
Congrats grads of 2019 🙂
A huge thank-you to Saloni for sharing her story as a #STEMBabe, and for all of the amazing advice! If you have any questions for her, feel free to follow her on Instagram @smilesbysaloni!
Stay tuned for the next #STEMBabes post! If you’re interested in contributing, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org