SHPEP Student Feature - Predent Marlinda Haudley
Marlinda Haudley became inspired to enter dental care
through her strong desire to give back to her Native American community. The
combination of participating in the Summer Health Professions Education Program
(SHPEP) and meeting a woman dentist from the same Navajo reservation as her
solidified this predent’s path to dentistry.
What lead to your interest in a health profession?
I was born and
raised on a Navajo Reservation. When I left the reservation for college, my
views of myself and the world I lived in changed. As a Native American, I
recognized the need for better health care on the reservation, so I decided to
begin my journey into dentistry as a predental student. There are many health
disparities on the reservation that make living a healthy lifestyle a challenge,
so I want to be a part of health care improvement through proper oral health
and nutrition for my community. This realization from a Western perspective opened
my eyes to a bigger picture of how I could give back and improve the lives of
Who or what inspired you?
I was truly
inspired to pursue a career in dentistry when I participated in the Summer
Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP, now named SHPEP) in 2013. After
meeting Dr. Tamana
Begay, a Navajo dentist and a member of the SHPEP National Alumni
Advisory Board. She was the first Navajo dentist I had ever met. She helped me
build confidence and demonstrated how I could be impactful in my community. By
simply having the opportunity of meeting someone who was from the same
reservation, who also recognized the same disparities and knew my challenges of
trying to figure out how to be successful many miles from home was the boost of
inspiration I needed.
What obstacles did you overcome in your educational journey?
When I left the
reservation for college, I experienced culture shock and struggled to succeed.
I was accustomed to life on the reservation, so I had to quickly make a few
undergraduate education, I worked two to three jobs while going to school full time
to afford my living expenses. Raised in a low-income, single-parent home, I
promised myself that I would not give up and leave the city without a college
degree. Leaving the reservation for college made me resilient in all aspects of
my life. This includes mentally, educationally, spiritually and emotionally. I
experienced almost everything a non-Native student would experience, but the
biggest challenge I had to overcome was also adjusting to a new environment and
learning style and being separated from home and everything I knew.
article can be found on SHPEP.org.