A day in their scrubs
For Lauren Brubaker, it’s new experiences that seem to provide the most opportunity to grow. Like the time when, during her junior year of high school, her family relocated from Lake Jackson to The Woodlands, Texas.
“It really encouraged me to be more outgoing,” says Brubaker. “When you move as a junior in high school, everyone already has their set friend group, and it’s hard to walk right in.”
Brubaker weathered the transition. Her twin sister offered a built-in best friend, and with time, the two joined the varsity cheer squad and found their place in the bustling suburb north of Houston.
When the time came to make decisions about college, diverging career paths led her and her sister to separate cities. Brubaker headed to Baylor University for its predental program, and her sister, Nikki Leigh, chose Texas A&M University to pursue engineering.
“At some point, we knew that unless we were going to be neighbors for the rest of our lives, we needed to take a leap of faith and branch out,” says Brubaker.
And branch out she did. As clinic requirements wound down this April, Brubaker, the 2017 Kerney Laday Scholarship recipient and D4 class president, wasn’t just thinking about her own board exam. She coordinated with the Texas A&M College of Dentistry Alumni Association to obtain meals funding for all participants and also organized the back-up patient pool for her entire class. Just this spring, she was inducted into Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society with a number of her peers. Following commencement, we’ll see Brubaker again soon. She returns in the summer to embark on her next journey: the Graduate Orthodontic Program.
Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas. I grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas, and moved to The Woodlands when I was 16.
Undergrad institution: Baylor University … go Bears!
Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: I was in the predental group at Baylor and met many upperclassmen who mentored me along the way. They all had chosen to come here and spoke wonders of the program. They expressed that they would be prepared to practice when they graduated. As I began to interview for dental school, it was only solidified; there was such a familial environment here, it just felt right!
Dental school survival strategy: Remembering that everything we are doing, however tedious, is to make us better clinicians so we that can provide the best care for our patients.
I think a lot of it has to do with perspective. My faith also really gets me through. We can’t complain; we are in a wonderful position and so very blessed to be here. There are days that are tough and stretch us to the limit, but there are also days that reinforce that we are right where we need to be. A mentor of mine often says his biggest life lessons were learned from his failures.
Favorite energy food: Coffee. There hasn’t been a day of dental school that I haven’t had a coffee. It just makes you more excited for what you are doing, whether it’s studying, lab work or heading to treat the next patient.
Best way to unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I have a puppy dog, Sophie, and I always walk her. She’s a schnoodle — a schnauzer poodle. I drove to Alabama to get her; I’ve never driven that far in my life but found a breeder that I couldn’t pass up. She will be 3 in June. There were probably six or seven of my friends who adopted dogs when D2 year started. It’s been fun to share the experiences with them.
Dental school aha moment: I think third year is when everything that you have learned pre-clinically ties in. You begin to understand why you took all the preclinical classes and what the content means for your patients. Before, everything just seemed like a means to an end. It all kind of tied together for me once I began working with my patients in the clinic.
Best patient care experience: I have two. My first crown was with my Papa, my grandfather. It’s so special to have been able to treat him and help him, after all he has done to help and support me. I have another patient; she was my first patient assigned during third year. As much as I’ve helped her, I think she has helped me even more. We’ve been working together for nearly two years. She’ll talk about how my confidence and speed have improved. To hear that from someone you are treating and who puts so much trust in you, that means a lot.
Goal after graduation: I’ll begin the orthodontic program upstairs, so I’ll be here for the next three years and then graduate again in 2021. How many graduations can you get? Hopefully I’ll stay here in the DFW area and obtain an associate position to learn alongside a mentor. I think I’d like to have a practice of my own one day. It would be really neat, too, to help residents as a part-time faculty member in the clinic. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the caring dentists and mentors who have helped me along the way.
What people may not know about you: I think most people in my class know that I’m a twin, and I’m just really close with my sister, brother and parents. Every year my extended family goes to Possum Kingdom Lake, where we celebrate my grandfather’s birthday. We always get those “bundtinis” from Nothing Bundt Cakes to give to him. He’ll be 97 in August, and he’s lived such an amazing life. He’ll always say, “If I was any better, I couldn’t stand it. This is the best day of the rest of my life.” It really does all come down to perspective. If you don’t have a positive mentality and your faith to carry you, how can you get through each day — let alone a lifetime of nearly 97 years?