Scholarship Spotlight: Visit To Overseas Orphanage Inspires Student

Mary Kiledjian

Fourth-year student Mary Kiledjian received the Helen and Rita Laurie Scholarship last year. Below she talks about her career aspirations, helping others, and the value of being a scholarship recipient.

Why did you want to become a dentist?

My parents are from Armenia and when we go back every year, we bring homemade goodie bags with chocolates, candy, crayons and other things. We went to an orphanage and passed them out to the kids and we thought they’d be so happy about the chocolate. But they weren’t.  The people who work there said, “They don’t eat sweets because when they do, everything hurts.” That made me want to change things. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a dentist.

What were your experiences during this year’s dental mission to the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic?

We worked every day from 8 a.m. to 7:30 and we broke for lunch for an hour. We saw about 20 patients a day. There were patients from all age groups. Mostly kids, but I had I also had an 82-year-old. We did anything that could be done in one day: restorations, a lot of extractions and cleanings. I had one patient with decayed teeth who was very self-conscious about her smile. When we were done, I got my cell phone and put it in selfie mode and showed her how she looked. She started crying because she loved it so much.

How has your scholarship helped you?

Dental school can be a big financial burden. Not a day goes by where I don’t think, how will I ever repay those loans? Any help I can receive is very beneficial and I’ll forever be grateful. It takes the stress off so I can focus on school, patient care and work.”