Ms. Christina Light, program scholar who participated in SHPEP (formerly, SMDEP) at the University of California Los Angeles shares her story about SHPEP. 

I participated in SMDEP at UCLA in 2016 and I’m currently a 3rd year dental student at UCLA. I wanted to share my story about SHPEP (SMDEP) and how it helped me get to where I am today. I just want to say I’m so thankful for everyone involved with the program and for what it has done for me and for many other students. SMDEP honestly changed my life, I talk about every chance I get. I loved it so much, I became an RA at the same program some years later.

I actually didn’t find out about SMDEP until a couple of days before the application was due, I had to rush to get recommendations together and write my essays, but it was so worth it. If anyone is considering applying last-minute and feeling unsure, just apply anyways!!

When I applied, I had to distinguish myself as a pre-med or pre-dent and I honestly don’t know why, but I checked pre-dent. When I was in the program, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after college, I just knew I liked medicine, but my GPA was mediocre at that point, so I was very discouraged. I ended up meeting my advisor for the program, Dr. Hewlett, who encouraged me in a way that I never had been before and gave an incredible amount of insight. I also met my resident advisor, Delano, a dental student at the time, who would become my mentor and friend to this day. I feel extremely blessed to have gone to SMDEP at the same school I ended up enrolling to and because of this, the first day of dental school really felt like home already.

If you’re planning on doing SHPEP, take full advantage of what the program is offering you. Yes, it’s a lot of fun and you should have fun! But remember what you’re there for, make connections with people, learn as much as you can, and figure out if whatever health profession you’re there for is the right one for you.

Posted: January 2021