Aaleeyah is a DMD in Chicago, Illinois providing quality dental and medical care for the community. Read more to see what inspired her to begin a career in dentistry and how she’s walking out of this year feeling more like a Lizzo song – with nothing to prove and so much to create.
I DECIDED TO PURSUE A CAREER IN DENTISTRY BECAUSE OF MY ABILITY TO HELP PEOPLE, AND IMPROVE THEIR SELF-ESTEEM.
WHERE DO YOU WORK, AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m a general dentist (Doctor of Dental Medicine-DMD). I work at a Federally Qualified Health Center. It’s a safety-net clinic, providing quality dental and medical care for the community. We focus a lot on pediatric patients, but if you’re an adult and you are in pain, you can always be seen as an emergency patient. Basically, we don’t turn anyone away in pain.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE A DENTIST?
My older sister, when I was about 7 or 8. I was looking in her mouth and she said, “You don’t think it’s gross?! You should be a dentist!” The thought never left me. When I got older, I decided to pursue it seriously because of my ability to help people and improve people’s self-esteem. Dental pain can be debilitating and seriously affect people’s quality of life. And to be able to alleviate that, but also improve people’s image of themselves.
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR FIELD?
That it’s so patient-centered. Dentists are often overlooked as “real doctors”, as though the mouth is somehow separate from the rest of the body. But this field is so much about informing patients about how your oral health affects your overall health and providing them with information at every single encounter. Seeing the light go on in their eyes after explaining something is one of the best feelings.
WHAT WAS THE MOST INSPIRING PART OF 2020, AND WHERE DID YOU FEEL THE MOST POSITIVE GROWTH?
Black Lives Matter is finally getting the light and attention it deserves. There was a moment when everyone just seemed to finally *get it*. Finally acknowledging the violence and unfair treatment Black people have been experiencing. Everyone was on the same page about equality being a birthright and not a privilege gifted to certain groups. I had growth in personal friendships that previously I hadn’t thought was possible. Interest in it has since declined, but the needle was definitely moved.