I owe everything that I am to my mother including my passion for dentistry and my desire to help others. My life with my mom wasn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. When I was about two, my mom decided to take charge of her life and runaway from an abusive marriage. As a result, she was twenty-two year old single mother with no place to stay, no job and no stability. For a while, my mom and I would sleep on various couches when we had the opportunity, or sometimes just sleep in our car. My mom knew that she wanted a better life for us than what we had, but had a difficult time finding jobs that she qualified for and that would be enough to support us financially. However, it just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. A female dentist knew of my mom and decided to offer her a steady good paying job as a dental assistant. My mother immediately accepted, even though she had no experience. This job, plus two other jobs, allowed my mother to lay a foundation for a stable life. This dentist became a mentor to my mother, pushed her to her limits, and eventually encouraged her to go to hygiene school. When I was about five years old, my mom started to pursue the idea of hygiene. She kept all three jobs and went to school full-time. Her dedication and hard work resonated with me and I saw that she was going to stop at nothing in order to achieve her dreams. After hygiene school she knew that she had to continue on to be a dentist and at the age of sixteen I was able to witness my mom graduate with her doctorate!
My mother has continuously stressed the importance of helping others. She always says that because we were blessed when we were down on our luck, it is our duty to pay it forward. Ever since I was sixteen my mom has been “paying it forward” through dentistry and bringing beautiful smiles to the community. Watching my mom change a person’s life through dentistry is the main reason of why I am currently enrolled in dental school. I also owe a rather large “thank you” to the dentist that offered my mom a dental assistant position. That dentist permanently changed the course of our lives, and it was certainly for the better!
Alex Purdy, ASDOH ’19