Biology Student Returns for Graduation After Completing First Year of Dental School
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – APRIL 30, 2012 – Roberto Benavides cannot wait to take part in The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s 20th Spring Commencement on the Cardenas South Hall Lawn at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 19.
Benavides, of Houston and Monterrey, Mexico, will receive a bachelor’s degree in biology. But he did not do his final year of academic work in Brownsville.
Benavides, 22, took classes at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to finish up elective requirements for his biology degree and to fulfill his first year of dental school.
“I’m very excited about graduation and looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m excited to see my friends. For some reason they thought I graduated. I think it’s going to be great.”
Benavides is part of the 3+4 Dental Early Acceptance Program, a partnership between the university and the health science center. Locally the program is administered by the Office of Health Professions Careers in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology. He learned about the program from Dr. Daniele Provenzano, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedicine in the College of Biomedical Sciences.
“Without the program it’s a huge probability I would not be sitting where I am at,” said Benavides. “There was a lot of tutoring involved. It is definitely an amazing program.”
During the first year of dental school he took Gross Anatomy, Histology, Biomaterials, Biochemistry, Dental Anatomy, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Oral Health and other courses. He takes about 30 credit hours each semester with a mix of classes lasting a full semester and other taking place for a few weeks.
“Patience and dental school really go together,” said Benavides.
He said the first two years of dental school teach students the theories of being a dentist. The third and fourth years of dental school are hands-on and patient-based.
During dental school Benavides will learn about residencies in oral maxillofacial surgery, dental radiology, periodontics and other areas.
“Roberto is an excellent student at UTB,” said Dr. Gustavo Stern, Director of the Office of Health Professions Careers. “He is committed, dedicated, caring and responsible and has high moral and ethical standards. I see him becoming a successful dentist practicing in our community.”
Benavides credited Provenzano as being a big influence in his academic life.
“Roberto is a highly motivated, capable and focused student,” said Provenzano. “I would go as far as stating that what makes Roberto successful is not just being a student by virtue of enrollment, but being a student by virtue of curiosity, an interest in learning coupled with work ethic and self-discipline. In other words for individuals like Roberto, being a student is not just a label or phrase, but a lifestyle, a way of expressing individuality.”
During the summer Benavides will take classes and shadow San Antonio dentists. He is scheduled to graduate from the health science center in 2015.
“It’s the best profession ever,” said Benavides. “I feel I made the correct decision. It’s a little hard but I have the passion I had when I started.”
Benavides said he will not get a choice on where to do his residency after dental school. He said after residency he wants to earn a state certification to practice dentistry but is not sure where yet.
“It’s too many years in the future,” he said. “I’m concerned with the here and now.”
He said he has adjusted well to San Antonio and likes the ethnic varieties of food and grocery stores. He goes to the gym and during the academic year on his own he learned Portuguese through language learning software.
Benavides is looking forward to seeing relatives who will be attending the university’s Commencement. He said there might be a trip to his favorite Brownsville restaurant, Taquito Express, while he is the city.
“It’s this niche between Mexican food and Texas food that is a sweet spot for me,” said Benavides.
To learn more about the 3+4 Dental Early Acceptance Program or other programs offered in the Office of Health Professions Careers, call Cherie Gallardo, Program Coordinator 956- 882-5059 or email@example.com.