Student Appreciates Scholarship as Act of Alumni Empathy

Nicole Czjaka

For Nicole Czajka, a scholarship gift from alumni means more than financial support. “It means a lot to know that there are people thinking about their own journey as dental students and what it’s like to be in our shoes today,’’ she says.

Czajka’s journey to dental school began when she discovered that she didn’t want to become a surgeon. After shadowing her mother, who is a surgeon technician, Czajka helped translate for a Polish patient who was gravely ill and died soon after. She came to the realization that her goal was to form long-term bonds with patients under happier circumstances. She also liked the idea of some day having her own practice and being self-employed, like her father, a retail business owner. “Dentistry was everything I loved – healthcare, artistry and I got my small business component,’’ she says. “And you also get to interact with people and educate them.’’

This year, Czajka has been awarded the Robert Johnson, DMD and Rosina Johnson, MD Endowed Scholarship. Last year, she was also grateful to receive the Anthony R. Volpe, DDS, MS endowed scholarship and the New Jersey Dental Association Endowed Scholarship. A fourth-year student, Czajka plans to become an orthodontist and will begin her residency at the University of Colorado after graduation. “It’s a specialty that really clicked for me – trying to achieve symmetry and balance, not just for esthetic reasons, but function as well.’’