Student has Contagious Passion for Dentistry

Future dentist presents at her hometown career day

When fourth year dental student Victoria Bridwell was invited to speak at her high school career day, she knew her passion for dentistry would be evident. What she didn’t expect were all the thank you notes.

At the actual career day, Bridwell presented in one of the school’s classrooms where the students would rotate between different presenters. She estimates that she spoke to over 100 high schoolers over five sessions. The students impressed her with their attentiveness and questions she received from them. But what was unexpected was the show of appreciation for her presentation.

“About a week later I received a package in the mail full of hand written thank you notes from many of the students,” said Bridwell. “When I opened it, I almost started crying. I had no idea those were coming but it absolutely warmed my heart.”

Bridwell’s former guidance counselor at Willard High School, located near Springfield, Missouri, asked her if she would want come back to participate in the school’s career day. It was actually the second time they had put out the invite but prior request came during her first year of dental school.

As most first years know, that is a big ask. “There was obviously know way I could make that happen with all my finals,” said Bridwell. “This time I was able to make it work. It was an honored they asked me and I was excited to share my passion for dentistry.”

Her passion for dentistry began at a young age. She knew she wanted a career in health care, with helping people as her end goal but she wasn’t sure what exact path she’d pursue. Ultimately, it was the time she spent in an orthodontics chair getting her braces that convinced dentistry was right for her. It was the positive change she experienced with her newly straightened smile and the confidence she gained.

“I love that dentistry is medical science but it’s also artistry,” said Bridwell. “Your using your hands to take something that is broken or diseased and causing pain, and make it not only functional but beautiful again.”

Bridwell is the first person in her family to go to college so it was important to her to also provide the high schoolers some general tips and tricks for managing the collegiate experience. She remembers being in their shoes, feeling like she didn’t have many people she could ask about what to expect from college. She of course covered all things dentistry but also emphasized things like campus visits.

“I just wanted to give a little guidance, give them a chance to ask questions they may be afraid to ask when they’re visiting colleges,” said Bridwell. “Even if dentistry isn’t their path, I wanted to give them some advice and direction for their future.”