Chelsea Townes, currently a 3rd year, is actively involved in many of our school organizations. She wanted to be involved in Student National Dental Association (SNDA) very early on because she attended many of its events during her post-baccalaureate program. She was lucky enough to have a mentor through the program that introduced her to Columbia and she felt that she should try to give back to the program that had assisted her so much as a pre-dental student. She also became involved in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) her first year since she has always been interested in outreach and wanted to learn more about the pediatrics specialty. She attended the CHHMP free clinic during her first year as well.
She became involved in Xi Psi Phi International Dental Fraternity (ZIPS) her first year as well. Her mentor through SNDA encouraged her to join and she is happy that she joined such a laid-back, loving family at Columbia. She has been involved in Student Government Association (SGA) since her first year as well. She has been the class social chair and currently serves as the Secretary for the school. Lastly, she became involved in the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) during her second year as she became more interested in pursing the DDS-MPH dual degree and attending the National Oral Health Conference.
It can be difficult to balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities. However, this is something that she has always done for as far as she can remember. Her parents always encouraged her to be active in diverse activates and follow her passion. She believes her extracurricular activities are as important as the didactic information she is learning in school. It encourages her to develop an entirely different skillset that will help her throughout her career and ultimately help her to help others.
She would advise current and future students to pursue interests they are passionate about and that will enhance their experiences at school. Attending free clinic first year made studying so much more bearable for her. It put the studying she was doing into perspective. Being a part of ZIPS made her feel like she had a family away from home. In general, Columbia provides amazing opportunities to the students to develop an idea about their future. It is important to take advantage of opportunities that will help actualize end goals.
Her end goal is to make connections with other people and find happiness in the process. It took her awhile to get to this point in her life and she is aware that her path is not yet established. She is open to opportunities and experiences that may present themselves from here on out. She always wants to keep in mind that she wants to help others, especially people with disadvantages. One thing on her bucket list is to start a free clinic or some type of facility or program that targets those that cannot afford dental care.
The DDS/MPH dual-degree program
In college she majored in Health & Societies and had a concentration in Public Health. She became interested in public health very early on in her college career. She did not even think about going to dental school until her junior year of college. Public health is what solidified her interest in the health field so when she came to dental school she was interested in learning more about how dentistry and public health could work together.
She is really happy to be a DDS-MPH Fellow. She loves dentistry for its art and science – its practicality gives her a sense of helping someone every day. Public Health, however, helps uncover many layers that are affecting patients on a much larger scale. It helps her to remember the struggles of people as she works with them on an individual level. It also has helped her to recognize ways that she may improve health outcomes for entire groups of people that are currently not receiving care. The program has introduced her to many mentors and experiences she may not have discovered otherwise. She participates in research, has been a teaching assistant, and became involved in organizing the Missions of Mercy trip for our school. The Section of Population Oral Health and Mailman School of Public Health have both been amazing assets to her dental school career.