Daniel Allen was conducting medical service trips and exploring Central and South America with his undergraduate classmates at Wabash College when the roots of his dentistry path formed. He had made several trips to rural villages with six to 10 others from Wabash, once as President of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) and a second time with a global health class.
“Being an assistant to those providing dental care and having the ability to interact with the individuals receiving the care allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the impact you can make on a person’s life through dental care,” said Allen.
The universe seemed to know exactly where to lead Allen as each week during his travels happened to be Dental Awareness Week in that location, not only Nicaragua, but El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Peru as well.
Upon graduating from Wabash College in 2013, Allen applied to dental school, but he ultimately decided to first enroll in the pre-professional non-thesis (PPNT) biology master’s degree at IUPUI to strengthen his application. Before his life-changing travels, Allen received his biology degree with a chemistry minor. Polishing his overall GPA in preparation for dental school seemed like the natural next step. By choosing such an intensive one-year program, he would learn key skills to prepare him for the trials and tribulations of professional school and prove Allen was cut out for what was ahead.
“Pursuing a Master’s of Science degree, and doing well, would prove I was equipped for the vigorous workload of dental school,” said Allen.
Allen, who grew up in Indianapolis, had wanted to stay close to home for dental school, but a quick Boston visit had Allen and his wife sold on the area, and he decided to enroll in dental school at Tufts University. Though the academics were rigorous, the clinical opportunities were endless. The cannoli’s and seafood were a perk, as well.
Allen credits his success at Tufts to the rigorous biology PPNT curriculum filled with courses like molecular biology and epigenetics.
“Although it should go without saying, this program can provide the springboard needed to be accepted to professional schools. All of the individuals I interacted with regularly in the [PPNT] program all achieved their goal of either dental school, medical school, or another post-graduate program.”
Allen graduated in the top 15% of his dental class of 200 at Tufts and returned to Indianapolis. Today, Allen is a pediatric dental resident at Riley Children’s Hospital. He had this to share when asked about the one piece of advice he’d give to a prospective PPNT student.
“Stay on top of your studies and be diligent in your work as this program greatly prepares you for professional school following the completion of the program.”