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Clara’s story

Clara has had the goal of becoming a dentist since the age of 11. She has flourished into a thoughtful and dedicated learner, hoping to improve the quality of national and global public health through her work.

This year, Clara began her Dentistry course at the Barts School of Dentistry, Queen Mary’s University.

Clara shared some thoughts with us about starting university, her future goals, and how Halcyon’s community has helped in preparing her for a bright future.

I wanted to contribute to peoples’ lives, health and overall happiness, and the more I learned about dentistry, the more I realised that dental health is a huge part of this.

Clara

Where has your life taken you since graduating from Halcyon?

 

After graduating from Halcyon, I took some time to prepare for my studies and to relax, of course. I took some online courses that covered a range of my interests; not just dentistry, but nutrition too. I spent most of my summer in France, and now I’m back in the UK settling into my dentistry course at Barts, Queen Mary’s University, which I began in mid-September.

 

How has your Halcyon education prepared you for your current studies?

 

I think Halcyon has definitely helped me prepare for studying at university. Doing an IB Extended Essay and completing internal assessments helped me learn how to reference correctly; there are so many rules and guidelines to follow! Halcyon had experts to help guide us in areas like that. I’d also add that I really developed my own study methods, my own way of focusing, and the drive to do my best at Halcyon.

 

Are you in touch with other Alumni?

 

Yes, since graduating I’ve kept in touch with a fair few people from my class. The Halcyon community definitely goes beyond the time we spent at school.

 

What sparked your interest in dentistry?

 

I actually first became interested in dentistry when I was 11. People are sometimes surprised when I say this, but I’ve never changed my mind! I visited an orthodontist, who was the first person I had ever met who said that they loved their job. I wanted to contribute to peoples’ lives, health and overall happiness, and the more I learned about dentistry, the more I realised that dental health is actually a huge part of this. Dental health impacts how you can eat, sleep, the rest of your bodily health, and your everyday life. It’s really important, and it’s a serious issue that so many people are scared of dentists.

People often only visit a dentist when they’re in pain, and at that point, it can often be too late. I really want to help dentists fight the myth of the ‘scary dentist’, because we should be acting on dental health prohibitively.
 

Could you tell us a bit about the course? How would you describe your experience of university study so far?

 

We are learning a lot of content through lectures, which are mostly being held online at the moment. We also have 6-10 lectures a week to self-study, which are recorded for us, and we can pause and rewind to capture all the details. Many of these are the same lectures taken by medicine students – we learn about the body, professionalism, working in a clinical environment, and academic skills too. I actually have an exam next week to cover all I’ve learned so far – it’s quite rigorous!

 

What do you miss most about Halcyon?

 

The community aspect of Halcyon is what I miss the most – the relationship between students, and particularly the relationship between students of all grades. Halcyon is definitely unique in that sense, to my knowledge – I don’t know of another school that provides such opportunities for students to make friends in different grade groups. I also miss the relationship between the students and teachers, who are always a listening ear and a voice of support.

I think that Halcyon achieves the perfect balance of independence and a strong support network for its students, which is a tricky feat. The independence and self-management side of things has really helped me prepare for the independence of university life, but I do miss the personalised support of Halcyon – I don’t have my own unique schedule or an individualised list of tasks to do anymore!

 

What’s next?

 

I’m looking forward to completing the rest of my initial studies, which will take five years – this includes 1-2 mandatory training years. After that, I can see myself spending a few years in the UK with the NHS, and then I might choose to specialise. Although it’s early days, I have spent some time thinking about this, and I like the idea of opening my own practice one day. My sister is currently in Grade 12 at Halcyon, and she wants to study dentistry too – we’ve kind of developed a shared dream of running a practice together. Of course, I’ve not decided on any specific path yet. I can’t predict my future interests or strengths, and choosing to specialise in something means you need to seriously apply yourself to expand your skill-set and knowledge – so I’m sure my plans will develop over time.
 

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

 

I just want to say that I really enjoyed my time at Halcyon, and I’m really grateful to everyone there. All the teachers, the students, the staff – everyone there contributed to creating a great experience. It definitely prepared me for life – not just in a completely academic sense, but also in self-development and preparing me for what I’ll face in the future.