“We stand on the shoulders of giants.” Since I first heard this phrase in college, it has been a constant reminder to work hard to honor the vision and efforts of those who came before me, and to remain humble because, really, I am a product of their sacrifices and achievements.
With Mother’s Day and the end of D1 year approaching, this phrase rings just a little bit more true. Mostly because my giants happen to be two amazing dentists, my mom and my lola (Tagalog for grandmother). Growing up, their profession was just a fact of life: backdrops of many baby pictures were dental chairs, typodont puppets were normal toys, and homework was done in a clinic break room. As a D1, I call home, recounting what we learned in Pharmacology and noting how much more sense my mom’s home care instructions make now, or send texts proudly showing her my improvements in MOD preparations and restorations. I know I’m still far from her and my lola – both physically and in expertise – but those moments are when I feel we’re just that much closer.
All three of us are the first daughters of our generations, so for years people would ask me, “So, following in their footsteps?” I never really had an answer until third year in college when I actually reflected on my giants and their accomplishments. My lola is a true matriarch in her barangay (district), and provided affordable care to those in need. My mom immigrated to the United States, and built her own practice from the ground up. They not only flourished in a career during a time when women were a noticeable minority, but also did so with a sense of strength and compassion that inspired others to follow suit. To me, they embody the dedication to serving others and the camaraderie between peers that our school encourages. With guidance from them and my support system at ASDOH, I know I’m on my way to creating my own path in their footsteps.
Three more years until the three of us can stand together in lilac regalia.
-Justine Angeles, ASDOH ’20