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Threads of my white coat


They say it takes a village to raise a child. I believe my journey to obtaining my white coat is a testament to that.

I come from a family of healthcare professionals. All of my relatives had a career in this line of work, from dentistry to medicine to nursing. Because of that, I had an early exposure to a variety of fields and quickly became fascinated with dentistry. I found dentistry was different from other professions because it borrowed traits from two monumental aspects of my life: arts and communication.

From a young age, I found joy in photography and conversation. My mother showed how her daily work tapped into both aspects. Whether it’s in examining the surfaces of a tooth or using calming words to relax an anxious patient, dentistry is truly something special. At the University of the Pacific, learning about the craft of dentistry has its challenges, but conquering them makes me excited to become a colleague of my mother’s one day.

My parents immigrated from Vietnam and settled down in Northern California. They came to America not knowing any English but jumped at any opportunity to learn it. Their efforts paid off. My father became an engineer. My mother, a UOP Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry alumna, changed career paths from engineering to dentistry. Ever since my childhood, they have instilled in me the importance of education. My journey to dental school is a direct result of that.

Earning this white coat was not easy. There were late nights in undergrad when I wanted to give up. Moments spent studying for the DAT when I questioned why I was even taking this test. There were even times when I wanted to change career paths. But through it all, I reflect on the passion I’ve had for the field since my youth and the adversity my parents faced to earn the life they currently enjoy. It is then that all my doubts go away.

When I wear my white coat, I reflect on the components that make it up.

The threads belong to my family, who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. One of the most fulfilling experiences of my life was seeing them smile at my ceremony and cheer me on.

The buttons are for my friends. They have celebrated my greatest moments with me but have also been there whenever life became a little too much.

The collar belongs to my future patients who will trust me with their health and motivate me to master my craft.

The stitched name belongs to me. Since I was a kid, I was always a step behind my peers. But, with patience and time, I would always deliver.

The struggling kid I once was never thought I’d be Dr. Ethan Nguyen one day. But the events in my life have primed me for that very moment.

~ Ethan Nguyen, Pacific ’24, UOP ASDA Pre-Dental Co-Chair

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