I’ve always tried to find where I belonged and where I fit in. My family and I immigrated to America when I was three years old. As a first-generation Taiwanese American, I straddled two cultures and two worlds. At home, I spoke Mandarin, and in public, I spoke English. My struggle to find where I fit continued into college. I received my Bachelor of Science in radio-television-film from the University of Texas at Austin. I met peers who found strength and interest in directing, cinematography, editing, and script writing. Me? Well, I didn’t know. I enjoyed being involved in the film industry but felt behind and out of place because I didn’t have a clear vision like my peers.
My feeling of not belonging changed when I switched my career to dental hygiene. I developed goals and a sense of purpose. I was surrounded by dental hygienists who strove for more for themselves and their patients. Let me be clear. When I became a dental hygienist, I never intended to be a speaker or an entrepreneur. How did this even come about? It came about because of 2020. I had time on my hands since I could not practice clinically. I had friends who were itching to do more. As time progressed in 2020, I cofounded Dental Hygiene Spark LLC, and started speaking.
My next career move
When I heard about RDH Evolution, I had been a speaker for almost a year. I did speaking in addition to my full-time job as a hygienist and clinical operations manager at a private pediatric office. I am moved that Amber Lovatos, 2022 Award of Distinction recipient, nominated me for a scholarship to Evolution. I felt honored that Pulpdent saw my potential and selected me.
As a new speaker and entrepreneur, I walked into RDH Evolution both excited and nervous. Self-doubt crept in. Why am I here? Am I supposed to be here? Am I ready to be here? At the Monday night meet and greet, I introduced myself to Amber Auger, a keynote speaker. She immediately asked the right questions to get me to talk about why I was there. It was the jolt I needed to realize that I belonged there. I was ready to take advantage of every networking and learning opportunity the week brought.
As I walked into the first day of RDH Evolution, I met professionals from all walks of dental hygiene: accomplished writers, international speakers, clinical hygienists, new graduates, and social media influencers. I genuinely wanted to get to know people, hear their stories, and find a way to support them. What followed was nothing short of life-changing. After Amber, Jackie Sanders and Josey Sewell shared their stories, and I quickly felt my insecurities fade and realized that we had all “been there.” We have all had fears and been through trials. What mattered was how we triumphed over adversity.
The highlight for me
While the courses about building our brand, how to be published, and clinical productivity provided us tools to navigate success, my favorite part of the event was being one of the Pulpdent special guests at a rooftop dinner. The opportunity to connect with the other recipients and with Christie Bailey and Zac Kulsrud from Pulpdent in a more intimate setting was the perfect way to end the first day. We had a moment to recap the day, be grateful, and share our visions on a deeper level. The night ended watching fireworks from a distance over Walt Disney World. It was a magical way to end a special night.
Now I feel empowered and ready for the next steps as a speaker, new writer, and soon-to-be podcaster. This experience gave me the motivation, guidance, and most importantly, the courage to stay true to myself. These invaluable tools were made possible because of the support that RDH magazine and Pulpdent provided me.
Pulpdent is a financial supporter of RDH magazine.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the November 2022 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.