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"There has definitively been a lot of change since I started dental school. I don’t think I knew exactly what to expect going into dental school but I have become more aware of who I am as a person: my skills, what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, and how to ask for help. I’ve definitely become more of a “softee” seeing all the dental needs in the community. A lot of people tell you that “you need to really harden up”, but in my opinion you have to stay true to why you went into dentistry. Who are you willing to serve and why are you doing this? To me, I really want to help the people who can’t help themselves. Being a learning student doctor there are so many “obstacles” that you have to overcome before you can fully treat somebody, so sometimes I get a little sad knowing that I’m the last hope for some of these people and I still can’t help them out for a number of reasons. That affects me emotionally and I tend to take that home with me. I have to learn to detach myself from dentistry and from my emotional aspect. But I’m also very excited: being a third year now everything is more realistic. In a year and a half I’ll be doing this without anyone to guide me. So I must stay motivated to learn as much as I can, to seek mentorship, and to find people who have done awesome things and learn from them. But with the realistic aspect of being on my own, I have to be mature enough to understand why I’m not getting something done: Do I need to go back upstairs and practice? Do I need to find a different opinion or a different approach? I’ve definitely changed a lot since pre-dental days, but I’ve also kept a lot of myself. I like to devote time into doing things. I like to volunteer and mentor because it brings me happiness. I have been doing that since undergrad. All in all, I’ve grown up slowly but surely." - Lizzeth Rodriguez