Meet Denise, a Salvadoran Goizueta Scholar. Denise is a sophomore majoring in Biology with a pre-med concentration interested in dentistry.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. I had a fun time growing up. I spent a lot of time just running around in the streets. I was kind of tomboyish, and played a lot of sports, even though I sucked at them.
What were you like in high school?
I was very nerdy but at the same time I was one of those kids that didn’t study much. Everybody knew that I was a big nerd, though. I danced a lot and did a lot of drama and theater stuff.
What happened to make you get interested in dentistry?
When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be a dentist but my mom talked me out of it because she thought it was gross. During my senior year of high school, I realized that I still had an interest in the field. I knew that I wanted to pursue something in the medical field but being a doctor didn’t interest me, so I looked into dentistry.
Why did you pick GSU?
At first I wanted to go out of state for school, but when I came to Georgia State on one of the tours I really liked that it was in the city. I liked how busy and diverse it was, another important factor me. I also saw how many opportunities there were on campus and also in the city.
How are you unique among other Latin American students at Georgia State University?
A lot of people are familiar with some Latino cultures, it’s less common to find someone who knows a lot about my culture. Everybody thinks of tacos when they think of Latino food, but tacos are not a part of our diet. For the Hispanic Scholarship Fund program, I brought pupusas, which are corn tortillas with cheese, pork, and squash, and everyone liked them.
What have you done outside schoolwork in relation to your major?
I’ve volunteered at a few clinics, mainly dental, and I’ve also shadowed various dentists around the city. During spring break last year, I went to Costa Rica on a humanitarian mission trip to provide care to rural areas of Costa Rica that didn’t have access to medical and dental care. Through the Goizueta scholarship I got my assistantship in Dr. Fry’s lab where I got a lot of hands on experience in biology and got to see things before we studied them in my classes. I met a lot of people through the Goizueta Program who are my friends now, and we’ve started clubs together and done other activities that were fun.
What do you think the panel saw in you that made them choose you?
I think they saw that I didn’t just want to come to Georgia State, study, get my degree and get out of here, but that I wanted to do more and get involved and give back to Georgia State. I talked about how involved I was in high school and how I wanted to be the same way in college. I discussed what I really believed in — community outreach. I also talked about how it was really important to me to bring diversity to Georgia State.
What was the hardest part of the application process?
I guess the essay. I remember what I wrote for the essay portion; I was trying to figure out what exactly they were looking for, what was most important to them. In the end, I wrote what was important to me and I think that is what they were looking for. They wanted to know who I was and where I wanted to go.
In your opinion, which is the most important part of the Goizueta Scholarship as it relates to you?
First, I love being so close to campus and personally being involved within the school community. I have to stay late sometimes, so I would hate to have to commute and my family lives too far away to stay at home. Paying for housing is expensive so I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that. I love being able to get to school in ten minutes.
Second, the stipend for study abroad is amazing. Studying abroad is something I don’t think I would be able to pay for in full on my own. I was able to go to Cordoba, Argentina and do lab-work in my field of study. Even though I’m Latin American, It was a completely different experience from any I’ve ever been. I had an opportunity to stay with a great family, and learn a few things about Argentinean culture.