Q&A Featuring Chaina S. Cooper, BS, RDH
#WBB- What made you want to explore dentistry for a living?
Chaina- I’ve always had this awkward obsession with teeth. I’m almost certain it started around the age 14, when flirting became a thing in middle school. My teeth weren’t that bad, but they definitely needed some attention. My peers used to call me beaver girl and all types of names, but at that point in my life my mom wasn’t in the financial position to pay for any orthodontic treatment (braces). Maybe a year later I started working, saving my money, and found an orthodontist that was willing to work with me on a payment plan. Dr. Mark Underwood, he’s such a cool kid lol. He introduced me to the field dentistry, as a profession, but also as a way to help the community through educating and motivating.
#WBB- How do you find motivation to do such a repetitive serious job daily? Like you can never go through the motions with someone's teeth. Lol
Chaina- Lol yes, the steps are a little repetitive, but what makes the day-to-day so exciting is really the patients. Each person is so different in so many ways. Their personalities, their daily dental routines, their religious beliefs, their priorities. All of these facets are factored into treating each and every individual. Being a dental hygienist is definitely a very involved role. Not only do I have to stay abreast all of the advances in technology, so that I can educate the patients, I also have to keep up with the news and the social scenes. The daily goal is relate, educate, and motivate and that’s what really keeps me going.
#WBB- Looking back on your post undergrad years, it's a long lonely road studying any form of medicine. How did you keep yourself from getting discouraged? Especially seeing careers your peers have a faster growth rate?
Chaina- I could really write a whole book on this one question alone lol. In all honestly, really just trusting in God with my journey. After I had graduated, I started working front desk at dental office, while preparing to take my DAT (Dental Admissions Test) as well as applying for school. The first month went fairly smoothly, as far as working and studying, but then life happened, of course. I wasn’t making enough money, had to get a second job, studied less, the list goes on and on. A few of my closest friends were going through similar situations, so at the time, I felt a little weary, but with my friends and I supporting one another it was okay. It wasn’t until three of my friends had been accepted into medical school, dental school, their master’s program. That’s when I felt like I wasn’t doing something right. I felt like I was slowly being left behind.
Going to homecoming wasn’t even fun anymore, because I felt like my answers were still the same. “I’m still studying, I’m still trying to get there, I’m still doing that.” Discouragement and defeat had really taken a hold of my spirit and I couldn’t shake the funk. It wasn’t until I started goingto church, reading the Bible, becoming more transparent about my daily trials. I realized then that I could do anything. I was no longer afraid of asking questions. I was no longer afraid to ask for help and that’s when I received my true blessing. I went to visit Dr. Grant- Mills, an instructor at the Howard University College of Dentistry. She’s always been there for me, since HCOP days. I’ll never forget what she had asked me. After watching me wipe away all of my tears, she asked me, “Chaina, you have been worrying about the wrong things. Everyone’s path is different. Some journeys are longer than others. The true question is not what you want to be, but do you want to do.” And then the fireworks happened lol. I had been consuming my time and energy with trying to jump over the mountain, instead of climbing each crest at a time. Prior to becoming a dentist and then a devoted member of the HU COD faculty, Dr. Grant-Mills was a dental hygienist. She and I discussed her contributions to communities all around the world, and how I could do the same. She emphasized my life being in my own hands. And here I am today, a dental hygienist, meeting and helping new people every day become the best person they can be.
#WBB- What are your future goals in this industry? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Chaina- Community outreach and research for sure. I plan to get my Master’s in Public Health and then head out to conduct research in a non-industrialized country. I’m brushing up on my Spanish now, so I’ll probably head down South. Lord knows I love the kids, so I’m sure I’ll be at Howard’s College of Dentistry sooner than later, teaching the next generation of dental hygienists.
#WBB- What advice do you have for the next young lady following your footsteps?
Chaina- I’d tell the young lady to stay true to herself and trust in God. So many times I’ve found myself comparing and conforming and all it’s ever done was keep me from tapping into my own greatness. It’s a beautiful thing to make mistakes. Some of the most pleasurable, joyous moments in life come with a whole lot of pain, so when you’re hit with a door, when someone tells you no, when the world doesn’t understand your vision, keep smiling, keep shooting for the stars, keep searching for what’s best for you. It’s cute to be a cookie cutter pastry, but it’s more fulfilling when you’re able to grow and form on your own.
Interviewed by #WeBuyBlack / #WBB / Gerald Jackson @Gstaxxs103
View complete interview -> http://dfthdy.com/blog/shedefeatstheday-qa-featuring-chaina-s-cooper
Chaina - @Chaina_Simone