Student Spotlight: Rachel Obeid, Premed
Accepted to almost every dental school she applied to, Rachel shares her experience and insight in to how she accomplished this impressive feat.
Rachel Obeid, Premedical and Health Studies, has always loved science, math, and healthcare. So naturally, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) was a great fit.
"Coming to school, I knew I wanted to be a dentist, and I liked MCPHS because the students are focused on healthcare," said Rachel. "That's what I want to do, and I want to stay on track with that."
And stay on track she did. Rachel's determination and commitment to her dream led to acceptances at almost every dental school she applied to—an impressive list including Columbia University, Stony Brook University, University of New England, New York University, Boston University, Tufts University, and University of Connecticut. She was also put on the high-priority waitlist at Harvard University, but ultimately decided on Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
"I decided on Tufts, because I really want to stay in Boston next to my friends and family," said Rachel. "It’s an amazing school and great program. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it."
So what led to her success? It all started at MCPHS. When choosing a college, the smaller class sizes, accessible professors, and resources available to help students find internship and research experiences appealed to Rachel. In addition, our location in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area of Boston afforded her some amazing opportunities.
"I feel like [going to school in the LMA] really helped me network and make connections in the city because, especially at MCPHS, I was surrounded by hospitals like Brigham and Women's (BWH) and Boston Children’s Hospital," said Rachel. "Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) was an easy commute, so I did volunteering and research there. I really feel like the location of the school helped me get those opportunities, because they were so close to me."
Rachel feels strongly that her work outside of the classroom made a big impact on her dental school applications. "I think the most important part about the application is, not only your grades and exam scores, but also what you did in terms of extracurricular activities," said Rachel. "My teachers really helped me make connections to get internships and research that set me apart when applying."
In addition to volunteering for Horizons for Homeless Children at BWH and Boston Children's Hospital and her research work at MGH, she also participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Columbia University the summer after her freshman year and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at MCPHS the summer after her junior year. Through SURF, Rachel played a key role in developing an opioid overdose training program that has been used to educate MCPHS students, faculty, and staff on opioid overdose recognition and response.
On campus, Rachel cofounded the MCPHS chapter of Global Medical Brigades, a student-led organization committed to global health equality, and serves as the chair of the Dental group.
"The primary goal of the club is to do an annual mission trip," said Rachel. "So last year we went to Panama to provide medical relief for underserved populations there. We also do local volunteer work at soup kitchens and things like that. We set up a health talk symposium last year and brought in some speakers, and it was an opportunity for different public health clubs at the school to set up their work and share it with faculty and students."
For Rachel, it's not all about extracurriculars. Rachel has been studying for and preparing to apply to dental school since freshman year. "My professors definitely stressed studying for the [dental school] admissions test from freshman year," said Rachel. "So I studied throughout freshman year, but I really started doing practice exams and things like that and reading more books three months before the exam [summer before senior year]."
Having access to her professors and other resources at MCPHS were also key factors to Rachel's success. "I talked to my professors a lot about what to study, and they connected me with students in dental school who really guided me through the whole process," said Rachel. "The Writing Center here was awesome about checking my personal statement and my essays. I would just pop in whenever I needed help, and they would always be ready to help me."
She also participated in mock interviews with her professors and credits Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Joseph DeMasi, with giving her an edge in her dental school interviews. "I really enjoyed [Professor DeMasi's] classes," said Rachel. "He introduced us to a flipped classroom setting, which is becoming more popular in graduate schools. So they asked me about that in some of my interviews, and I was familiar with it, and they really liked that."
So what advice would Rachel give to a student interested in going to dental school? "Make sure that you stay committed. It’s very easy to get discouraged because it is a lot of work," said Rachel. "So the way I stayed committed was shadowing a lot of dentists, and that really motivated me to keep studying, because I saw what the end goal was."
Interested in becoming a dentist? Check out our Premedical and Health Studies program to learn more. Or read our interview with alum Thomas Whitmer, about his journey from our Dental Hygiene program to dental school.