Alum Frida Sandoval joins DDS class of 2027

Frida Sandoval

The DDS Class of 2027 has arrived at the School of Dentistry with 109 students bringing lofty academic credentials and compelling personal stories from across Michigan and around the country. That included Frida Sandoval, who earned her undergraduate degree from U-M.

The Detroit resident is among the class members who are the most familiar with the School of Dentistry after she was part of the U-M’s Health Sciences Scholars Program while earning her undergraduate degree. The program is a learning community that helps students explore various health science careers. A first-generation college student, Sandoval studied evolutionary anthropology and conducted lab research in that field while also shadowing various professional units on campus, including the dental school, medical school and social work, among others.

That she ultimately chose to pursue dentistry may be linked in hindsight to a seed planted by a teacher she had in high school for a favorite art class in jewelry-making. Knowing that Sandoval was thinking about her future plans, the teacher told her: “You should do dentistry. It’s like doing jewelry in somebody’s mouth.” She remembered that advice as she learned more about dentistry and saw the U-M School of Dentistry in action during her undergraduate years. Ultimately, she chose the dental school she was most familiar with, in part because she wanted to attend a school with a community of people with a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

“They covered so many things that I wanted to learn going into dentistry and they had so many programs specifically for DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) that I felt more welcome,” she said. “I’m a person from a Mexican background, so for me it was very important to be acknowledged that I had that background. And also, I’m a first-generation (college student) so I didn’t have a lot of exposure to dentistry. Meeting a lot of DEI faculty at the dental school was a sure indicator that this is definitely a school that wants me to be here. And I’m just happy to be here when I am here. It’s all of these people – faculty, staff and students – who make you feel very welcome and at-home. The DEI factor is really strong here and I know that they value it.”

Sandoval said she hopes to return to Detroit after earning her DDS degree because there is a need. “There are a lot of health disparities, especially in the large cities,” she said. “I want to definitely go back to Detroit and give back to my community and be able to serve people in the immigrant population. They are specifically who I want to help and make dental care more accessible to them. I want to build bridges between the people from my community and dentistry.”

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