A day in their scrubs

Meet D3 Richard Rodriguez
May 4th, 2020

D3 Richard RodriguezHometown: I was born and raised in Odessa, Texas, which can be summarized by Friday Night Lights, oil and tumbleweeds. However, my parents moved to San Antonio six years ago, and wherever they are is what I call home.

Undergrad institution: I attended the University of the Incarnate Word, which is a beautiful, medium-size private school near the heart of San Antonio. That’s where I received a Bachelor of Science in biology with minors in business administration and history.

Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: I participated in the Summer Predental Enrichment Program Collegiate II in the summer of 2016. The experience was life-changing for me. It was an enriching and exhausting program, but it allowed me to create long-lasting relationships with colleagues and faculty here. My first choice of dental schools was actually the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry. I’d fallen in love with the city of San Antonio, and my family lives there. It seemed like the best choice, but I was not accepted into their program. That rejection is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, because I have grown to love TAMU — the diversity and inclusion, the faculty, and the friends I‘ve made here.

Dental school success strategy: One way that I have always pushed myself to study and work harder is to remind myself of the incredible privilege I have to be a health professional student. We live in a country where your ZIP code and socioeconomic status strongly correlates with the quality of education that you have. I was blessed to be born into a stable household with loving parents. While stress and numerical performance evaluations can lead me to doubt myself at times, I constantly remind myself that I have a responsibility to serve those who were not given the same opportunities that I have been given.

Favorite energy food: Black coffee and fresh fruit

How you unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I’ve been a news junkie since middle school, so I log into Twitter to stay informed on current events and to laugh at some of the latest comical “memes.” I also enjoy exercising; watching the best comedy ever, “The Office”; and playing with my two cats, Twigs and Sol.

Best dental school moment so far: Funny enough, my best dental school moment wasn’t even at school. It occurred when I was invited to participate in the American Dental Education Association’s Capitol Hill Day event in Washington D.C. I was able to visit with the legislative staff of the two Texas senators and a Texas congresswoman to discuss federal funding for oral health-related federal programs. It was one of the most intimidating and exciting experiences of my life to be walking through the halls of Congress. I even ran into a major 2020 presidential candidate on my way to one of the meetings.

Favorite patient care experience: My favorite patient care experience was on my elementary school rotation placing sealants on children. It’s truly enjoyable to work with all of the different personalities that kids have and take the opportunity to give them a positive dental experience that can have a lifelong impact. Also, when you’re working with children, you’re allowed to be “silly” in a professional setting.

Goal after graduation: I have recently been drawn to participate in advocacy dentistry and the various ways we can increase access of care to marginalized populations in our country. My plan is to get a master’s in public health and work on health care policy. However, I currently don’t know at which level of government I want to participate.

What people may not know about you: I am a volunteer deputy registrar and can register anyone to vote in Dallas County. I ALWAYS have voter registration forms with me at school and will be more than happy to answer any questions anyone has about the electoral process. I will never give my personal political opinions. I simply enjoy educating our younger population about the importance of civic engagement and the details necessary to vote.

— Kathleen Green Pothier