Spotlight on summer enrichment program alums
Q&A: The road to dentistry with Hunter Acord
This senior biomedical sciences major at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi completed the dental school’s Summer Predental Enrichment Program in 2014. In this first in a series of columns featuring SPEP alumni, Acord shares how his experiences at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry have shaped his career path.
I always knew I wanted to work in a profession where I could help people, but it wasn’t until taking a dental science course in high school that I knew I wanted to pursue dentistry. In that class we had a simulated dental office as well as the necessary tools to perform lab work.
At this point, my interest was limited to the cosmetic aspect of dentistry rather than the whole scope the profession has to offer. I loved working with my hands and the idea of transforming smiles, but my outlook completely changed after volunteering at a Texas Mission of Mercy event with the UT School of Dentistry at Houston. Free dental care was given to individuals who were dentally underserved. It was inspiring to see dentists use their gifts to alleviate one’s pain out of the kindness of their hearts, but it was frustrating to know that not all of the patients would be treated due to a lack of dentists and time. I wanted nothing more than to be able to help these individuals.
Learning more about the systemic link between the mouth and the rest of the body really motivates me to stress the importance of oral health — just ask any of my friends or family members how much I talk about flossing!
My SPEP experience:
Attending SPEP was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. The six weeks spent in Dallas last summer were extremely testing, both physically and mentally. I probably averaged four or five hours of sleep per night, but it was all worth it! We were given the opportunity to work with our hands in the preclinical labs, shadowed dentists and dental students, took actual D1 science courses, and were also given a lot of DAT (Dental Admission Test) preparation materials. Before this program, I really underestimated the DAT; this could be seen by the fact that my only study material was an old book from 1999! Later on, though, I found myself doing hundreds of practice problems with my roommates before going to bed.
Overall, I made a lot of good friends who became family after six weeks; it was amazing being surrounded by people from very diverse backgrounds with the same goals as myself. We all still keep in touch to this day!
What I’m currently doing:
I’m getting ready to begin the last semester of my undergraduate years at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. I remain involved in my university’s predental society as well as my fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. When I’m not in class, working or shadowing, I enjoy hanging out with my friends as well as hunting, fishing and golfing. After graduating, I plan on relaxing during the summer with my family before taking off to dental school in the fall!