As a student at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Ashlee Brown was required to give regular presentations on a possible career.
While other students flitted from one career to another, Ashlee knew exactly what she wanted to do.
So all of her presentations and Powerpoints revolved around one goal: Becoming a dentist.
“As a little girl, I never liked my smile,” she recalls, “So I had a passion about fixing my own teeth.”
Ashlee, 21, is chasing that dream this summer when she attends UCLA’s pre-professional summer program for minority students interested in medical or dental school.
Open to students with less than 60 undergraduate credits, the six-week program is designed to provide students with help studying for medical and dental school entrance exams (MCAT and the DAT), and give them professional contacts who can become mentors. Students will also get the chance to observe or participate in clinical exams, listen to guest speakers and learn how to practice to underserved populations.
“It’s kind of like a sneak peek at dental school,” said Ashlee. Although she has always focused on attending dental school, “I definitely didn’t dream I could make it into a program like this,” she said.
Ashlee, a first-generation college student, learned about the summer programs while searching online for information about pre-dental programs. Although there are many around the country, she applied to several, including a program at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and another at Columbia University in New York. She chose UCLA, however, because the costs were covered by the university. “UCLA was free. All I had to do was pay for my tickets there and back,” she said.
When UCLA notified her that she’d been accepted into the summer program, Ashlee’s family went a little nuts. “My grandmother was getting ready for church and she had to go check her blood pressure,” says Ashlee, with a laugh. “My mom posted it all over Facebook. My dad was extremely excited – and my parents bought my ticket to UCLA. They’re very excited.”
Valencia advisor Chris Klinger has worked with Ashlee and is impressed by her can-do attitude. “What caught my eye was how well organized she was with her academic and career plan. She was focused and had done her research about programs and schools,” Klinger said. “Planning is the key factor in successful admission to any healthcare graduate program.”
In the fall, Ashlee will begin classes at the University of Central Florida to complete her bachelor’s degree. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to attend dental school.