Alumna’s impactful mentorship comes full circle

December 06, 2023

Gabriella Galvez smiling in front of a stone background

Gabriella Galvez ’18, started her dental journey in 2014 when she decided to major in health science and minor in chemistry.

After taking an introduction to healthcare course with Christine Fitzgerald, professor emerita, Galvez decided to explore dentistry and eventually shadow where she is currently employed. Watching how her current supervisors cared for patients, their influence within the community and how they maintained a work-life balance, Galvez was inspired to follow in their footsteps. 

During her time within the School of Health Sciences, which housed many pre-med and pre-PA students, Galvez was one of the few pre-dental students at this time. Galvez had the option of pursuing a pre-med track, but the particular courses required to go to dentistry school did not align with this option. 

After extensive research about the required courses for dental school, Galvez took this information to her adviser Anna Gilmore, director of pre-health advising, to create the pre-dental studies for other students alike.

“The pre-dental designation was brought forward with the intent that any future Quinnipiac pre-dental student didn't have to do the mental acrobatics and research to figure out which courses were and weren't necessary to apply to dental school, which was time consuming for me come course selection time,” Galvez said.

Galvez has found her niche within dentistry, that being pre-dental mentorship. She mentioned that while the procedure can be high-risk, anxiety-inducing and ego-crushing at times, it's also incredibly rewarding to help pre-dental students go through it with a little less stress.

“Having a mentor provides a sense of comfort no matter if you're applying to dental school, in dental school, or starting a job as a new dentist. Someone who was once in your position is in your corner, rooting you on,” Galvez said. "I still benefit from mentorship to this day. If I can pay it forward to other pre-dental students so that they may not have the same struggles I did as a pre-dental student, then I can rest easy knowing that I relieved a little stress on someone who's in the shoes I was once in."

Galvez now works at D’Andrea Pantera Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, a private dentistry practice in Hamden, where she shadowed as a pre-dental student during her time at Quinnipiac.

“I felt very guided and supported every step of the way,” said Galvez. "Gilmore gave me a push where I needed it, Dr. Fitzgerald helped me stay organized and on top of my requirements."

This came full circle when Galvez found Gilmore sitting in her dental chair, as one of her patients.

“It certainly felt very strange, but also so exciting to see Anna in this new setting,” said Galvez. “I felt like I truly made it, which is truly such a unique feeling that has happened only a handful of times during this journey. We gave each other a big hug and basked in how special the moment was."

Gilmore explained how she felt sitting in the chair.

“It has been rewarding to see things come full circle,” said Gilmore. “I first met Dr. Galvez in her sophomore year and worked with her through college as she explored various healthcare careers, identified dentistry as the best fit and ultimately applied to dental school.”

She elaborated on her experience advising and preparing Galvez for her future.

“When she discovered dentistry, Dr. Galvez spent extensive time shadowing, networking and learning about the field," said Gilmore. "This combination of exploration and in-depth exposure to the field made it easy for her to articulate her ‘why’ when applying to dental school, a key factor to success in the competitive American Dental Education Association application process.”

Galvez emphasized that both pre-dental students and undecided students should start logging all of the activities they have participated in, when they took place and how many hours they completed early on.

There is great importance when it comes to shadowing in general dentistry and other medical professions alike, she expressed.

“You'll be educated as a general practitioner for the entirety of your medical or dental education, so make sure you like the bare bones of your profession before you decide to specialize,” Galvez said.

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