Why do you want to join the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia?

I watched Dion walk slowly into my classroom for her first tutoring session. She held her hands clamped tightly over her mouth, dropping them only to introduce herself, and then immediately bringing them back up to cover her face as before.

If I were pressed to pinpoint a moment in time when my interest in dentistry was born, it was on the day that I met Dion. When I began undergraduate studies at Duke University in the fall of 2007, dentistry was not my focus. I aspired to help save the planet: "one tree at a time." Encouraged by my earlier research experience in environmental and materials science, I chose to pursue dual degrees in civil engineering and environmental policy.

My perspective on the study of environmental science shifted from trees to humans in the spring of my first year at Duke when I attended a seminar given by Doctor Marie Lynn Miranda, founding director of the Children's Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI). At the core of Dr. Miranda's presentation was a discussion of children's special vulnerabilities to environmental contaminants, especially in minority and low income populations. Dr. Miranda demonstrated clear ties between congenital deformities in children and the sinister toxins that are so...

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