A day in their scrubs

Meet D4 Emily Watson
September 19th, 2019

From the moment her sneakers hit the floor each morning, D4 Emily Watson is all in.

While dental school can be all-consuming, you won’t find her catching extra winks when she could be outdoors at fitness boot camp. Camp Gladiator has been her go-to since the summer before her D2 year, and she’s even encouraged school chums to join her before the sun rises. That includes “battle buddy” D4 Emily Nitta.

For the past two summers, Watson also has participated in the competitive Camp Gladiator Games that test individual and team endurance, speed and strength.

“It’s been the best thing I have done for my health and my spirit,” Watson says. “I have really enjoyed getting to know more people in my community outside of dentistry.”

When Watson isn’t burning carbs, she somehow squeezes in dental mission trips to Guatemala, dreams of returning to her cherished pastime of horseback riding, and follows her passion for snow cone outings. Desserts, she says, are her favorite pick-me-up foods.

“I love ice cream and cookies and cupcakes and snow cones just about as much as a 4-year-old. Possibly more,” she says. “I know those foods don’t give me nutritional energy, but nothing pushes me through a long clinic day like an afterschool snow cone date at Ruby’s Sno-Balls with my roomie.”

Every single bite, she would tell you, is worth those early wake-up calls.

Hometown: I was born and raised in Richardson, Texas, which is just a straight shot north on 75.

Undergrad institution: I attended the University of Texas at Austin from 2012 to 2016, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. It was a challenging transition accepting that I was going to have an Aggie degree, but my burnt orange backpack helps keep my roots strong.

Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: If I’m being honest, it was the only school I got in to. I applied to the Texas Trio schools, and God’s timing played out perfectly in placing me exactly where I needed to be. I have loved so much getting to explore and continue to grow in the place I call home.

Dental school success strategy: Constantly taking a step back and reminding myself of what an absolute blessing it is to be a dental student—to be taught by some of the brightest teachers in the world and to be built up by a community of people who are encouraging you to change the lives of the patients you see, one appointment at a time. Staying focused on always giving my best, and choosing to be joyful. This helps keep me focused on my individual dental school journey while also celebrating my classmates’ victories.

How you unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I try not to leave school until I have everything in order for the next couple of days and any necessary lab work complete for the week. So when I do go home, I can actually relax. I like to watch Netflix with my roommate, Ellen, and eat all the baked goods she ends up making as her way to unwind after a long day. We have a good thing going.

Best dental school moment so far: Starting my first year of dental school, I joined a group of dental students from Dallas and Houston, as well as doctors from all over the country, on a mission trip to Guatemala. Dr. T. Bob Davis has been a selfless servant for the last 40 years in organizing and putting into action dental mission trips for dental students. This is an opportunity to see just how far their hands and their hearts can take them. I have joined the group every year since. It is my hope and prayer that everyone has the chance to experience the kind of goodness that can stem solely from helping people who only have their words (and hugs) to give in return. But, man, are those words the most heartwarming words your ears can hear.

Favorite patient care experience: One of my favorite patients is a German emigrant who went through a season of homelessness after moving to the U.S. During that time, his depression and limited access to resources kept him from taking care of his teeth. After he got back on his feet and found his way to the dental school to get his smile and confidence back, I was able to make him an immediate denture. Through the process of caring for him and getting to know his story, and the overflowing amount of joy and thankfulness this treatment brought to his life, it was one of the most humbling experiences I could ever have in dentistry.

Goal after graduation: In the spring of my second year, I was accepted into the two-year Health Professions Scholarship Program with the U.S. Air Force. This allows me the opportunity to complete a one-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry program and then spend a couple of years working on an Air Force base somewhere in the world serving the men, women and families who have been called to defend our country. I can’t wait.

What people may not know about you: I feel like I’m a pretty open book. I have cherished the time I have spent studying and practicing my dental skills, but I’m excited to get some of my old hobbies back. Once I get out in the real world, I will waste no time getting back in the saddle (quite literally). I love horseback riding and would spend all my free time at the barn if I could. I also used to play percussion on drumline and in symphony orchestras and would love to get back into playing music as well.

Watson has traveled to Guatemala for dental mission trips each spring break since her D1 year. Last year, she was joined by (from left) now-alumni Dean Luttrell, Pan Kaping, John Ratliff and Angel Lopez.

— Kathleen Green Pothier