A day in their scrubs
Basketball has been a constant in Paris Webb’s life. After-school games played with her brother on the street in front of their Midland, Texas, home transitioned into high school ball, then a scholarship offer from a college tucked away in a small town in central Arizona.
So small, in fact, she had to be on her guard on late-night walks home from class. After all, this was javelina country.
“All the basketball girls lived in one section of campus,” Webb explains. “Our pathway to class was a trail. I kid you not — it was like a little desert trail. You’ve got mountains on one side of you, you’ve got succulents and cacti on the other side. Don’t leave class after 11 or 12 at night because you might see a hog. When I tore my ACL, I was on one of those scooters that only went 5 mph; it was terrifying. You’d see cacti, lizards; we tried to take care of an injured prairie dog. I would never have done that in the city.”
Something else happened during those three years in Coolidge, Arizona. She learned about a program at Texas A&M College of Dentistry for high school and college students interested in pursuing dentistry. Webb, who had wanted to be a dentist since getting her braces in seventh grade, listened intently to, of all people, her roommate’s sister, who had completed the program at Texas A&M College of Dentistry several years before.
“I had to go to Arizona to find out about SPEP. If I hadn’t come to SPEP, I’m sure the opportunity to go to Tyler and Operation East Texas wouldn’t have happened. I definitely feel like SPEP served as a bonus in me getting accepted to the other two Texas dental schools, too.
“This is the only school I ever wanted to go to. It’s funny how you see your dreams come true.”
Hometown: Midland, Texas
Undergrad institution: Abilene Christian University (bachelor’s) and Central Arizona College (associate in science and associate in arts)
Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: Initially, it was the only school I had researched. It’s kind of like when you have a favorite basketball player, you don’t like anyone else. When I got to SPEP here, that gave me an emotional connection to the school. I finished SPEP, took my DAT, celebrated, went to Miami for a vacation, came back, went to Operation East Texas with D3s and D4s, and at that time, I still had not heard anything back. While I was in the sterilization room, I got a text for my interview. I remember Heather Ming and other students celebrated with me.
Dental school survival strategy: Sleep. Some people are really sleep deprived. I’m not one of those people. I’d rather go to bed at 10 and get up at 5. And working out — just because it’s been a part of my life forever. Especially if I need to get up or if I don’t feel well, a good sweat will help me out. Doing that two to three times a week helps me relieve a lot of stress. With my class, sometimes we get a group text that gives me a little motivation, so it’s a compilation of family, friends, working out, sleeping and more sleeping.
Favorite energy food: I definitely like to do smoothies. I don’t really eat veggies, so I throw them all in a smoothie: kale, veggies, and then a lot of blueberries and strawberries, with almond milk and orange juice. Belvita makes some little crackers — they taste like graham crackers. They supposedly give you energy. Those are probably the grab-and-go snacks.
Best way to unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I definitely call my mother, or my really good friend, Morgan, back home. Usually it’s just me venting, and they listen. Sometimes it will be, “I killed my test today,” or “I have to study.” I usually call one of my friends or my mom after class, just to detach from the school world.
Dentistry aha moment: Prior to even applying to dental school, I shadowed a doctor back home; she didn’t hesitate to teach me. I remember she had a patient come in, and the patient had some health issues. She couldn’t afford to pay for her procedure. Well, it just so happened that her birthday was coming up. I saw Dr. Laura, and they had a birthday card for her. Everybody was pooling money to put with the card. The patient left, and she took public transportation home. I’m pretty sure the amount of money in the envelope made it so she could afford the procedure. You have some people who just need the dental care and can’t afford it, not just at the time, but ever. This is what I want to do. When it’s all said and done, it’s the people who need the help and can’t get it, who make me realize this is what I want to do.
Goal after graduation: I have thought about it, but I’m not quite sold on any one specialty. My coach from ACU thinks I should be a pediatric dentist. I am just trying to do my best in class right now to give myself the option. I don’t think I want to stay in Dallas; I would do a small town outside of it. I’ve thought about going back home, because I have so many people I care about back home. By the time I finish dental school, it will be my 10-year reunion, so I probably wouldn’t have a problem getting clientele. Do I want to be in a small town, or do I want to be in a large town?
What people may not know about you: I have a brother named London. My dad says he has Paris and London; the rest are on the map. My brother is a year and a half older than me. He is my No. 1 competition. We played basketball together growing up. We had a goal on the porch, on the street. Our driveway was sloped. We would play until I won. Even if my record was 3-1, I was fine with that. We joke that we’ll continue the name thing with each of our kids.