DMD… Finally.

I graduated from dental school yesterday. I’m a real doctor now. (Well, as much of a real doctor as a dentist can be. If someone has a heart attack, you should probably still call 911.)

I finally got to put on that cap and gown and cross the stage to have someone drape me in that lilac hood.

And I was so proud to stand next to my friends and my colleagues while I was granted that degree that I have wanted and worked towards for so long.

I had so much support, yesterday and always… my family who has loved and supported me through 22 long years of schooling, and finally got to watch me complete my doctorate…

One of my best friends Lauren and her husband Dan, who drove six hours to sit through a very long day of speeches, just to be there for me while I got my degree…

And of course Caroline. Who was my biggest motivation throughout the second half of this really difficult program. My mom handed her to me as I marched out of the convention center with the other graduates, and I carried her through the receiving line of faculty and VIPs, in her little lilac dress. She put her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder and I whispered to her that mommy was a dentist now, that I did it for her. She said “Mommy dentist? Happy ‘wation, mommy.” (Which I assume meant “graduation”, and my mother taught her to say.)

She is only two, but I think she is proud of me. I know, for sure, that I am proud of myself.

Allow me a moment of what I hope is more pride than conceit… I have been through so much over the past year and there were so many times when I wanted to lie down and quit or give up. But I did not. I kept going and I didn’t just finish this program, I did well, and I stayed true to myself and the things that I always knew that I wanted. I hope I have set an example for my daughter when she is old enough to understand what I did for myself and for her.

And I hope that if you read this and you are a mother, or a single mother, like me, and you are in school or are thinking about going back… that you believe that it’s not what so many of my classmates say, that they don’t know how I could ever do it when I had someone else’s life to put before my own. She was not an obstacle to this achievement, but my biggest motivator and the single most important reason that I never lost sight of my goal.

I once was afraid that because I got pregnant halfway through school, my career was over. But it wasn’t that way. I can have both. Now I have my DMD, and I have my daughter. I am so happy, proud and content. There is nothing more that I need.

And to everyone who has ever asked me how I could do it with her, I guess I would say that the real question is, how could I ever have done it without her?

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  1. by Amanda

    On May 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Caroline has a wonderful role model for a mother. She may not realize it quite yet, but just give her a few years. You're definitely an inspiration. :)

  2. by Erika

    On May 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Congratulations! I, internet stranger, am also very proud of you! I'm a student and single mother as well. Whenever I lose sight of my goal, I like to read your blog for inspiration! :)

  3. by Emily Hanley

    On May 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    The day is here! Congratulations!!! You are so strong and such a great person to look up to. I (we) can't wait to read all about your adventures of dentristy with your beautiful daughter alongside you. Congrats again! Amazing! You deserve every second of happiness. :)

  4. by Susan

    On May 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Congratulations, Julia! I'm so happy for you and Caroline.

  5. by Tamara

    On May 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I welled up a lil' there! Congratulations – it's so well deserved. It's such hard work and I can only imagine how amazing it feels to finally graduate. Here you go!!!!!

  6. by Ashley T

    On May 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Amazing, amazing, AMAZING! Congrats on this payoff of all your hard work.

  7. by Merks

    On May 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Congratulations, Jules! I'm so proud of you!

  8. by Erin

    On May 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Congrats! I'm so happy for you. And I love The Hangover reference!

  9. by Anne

    On May 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    So proud to call you a friend Jules. And more than that I am so thankful the world and at least one little girl in it has a strong, confident, driven and wonderful woman to look up to. I couldn't be happier for you. And yesterday marked the first day in my entire life that I have actually liked a dentist :) . I kid, I love you to pieces jukes. Ride this high as long as you can! You deserve every moment!

  10. by edmo

    On May 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    We were much older than your Caroline, but I remember being there when my mom graduated with her nursing degree after my parents divorced. As boring as the ceremony was, she was so happy and I'll always remember that. Congrats on your very significant graduation.

  11. by LM

    On July 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Julia,
    I have to say that I just found your blog and just reading this post has given me “will power” to complete my last year of dental hygiene school. When I went for orentation for clinicals I was 8 months pregnant and when the teachers found out they said “ooh.. we should talk” giving me the maybe you should rethink this look. I wouldn’t let them give me the talk and said I will be fine I’ve worked way too hard to give up now. Mainly because it took me a few years just to get accepted into the clinical part. My daughter will be a year old tomorrow and it’s definatly going to get harder this next fall with more patients and requirements. I have thought about giving up so many times- but I feel that all you have gone through and you have still graduated that I really can’t give up. I look at the picture of you and your daughter at graduation- that is all I have thought about since I started clinicals when my daughter was 6 weeks old getting to get pictures with her at graduation. (She will be almost 2 when I graduate too) Thank you for writing this blog!

  12. by Julia

    On July 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Good for you, LM!! Comments like this make me so happy. Keep your eye on the prize and you will get there for sure. Good luck!

  13. by Danielle

    On July 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Julia,

    You are one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever read! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  14. by Kathie Camp

    On July 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’m a single mom of two young girls ages 7 and almost 5. I’ve decided to return to school for a career change. My goal is to get a master’s in nursing! As you mentioned in your blog, my girls are my motivation. Each time I’m taking a class and struggle with fitting in time for homework and mom duties, I just remind myself..I’m doing this for them!

    I have an MBA and had a career pre-children. However, I became a stay-at-home mom and after 7 years out of the work force found it a challenge to return to my previous career. Therefore, I’m changing to nursing to have more flexibility and time with them. Over time, as a nurse, I can work 3 days a week and still earn a living while having time to volunteer in my daughter’s classroom!

    Thanks for your motivation and this blog.

  15. by Katie

    On June 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I just found this blog today while doing a search of “single mothers in dental school” I am still on the fence about D school and am wondering what you think your pre-clinical years of dental school would have been like with kid in tow (I have a 2 1/1 year old). Any advice is appreciated, you are clearly an expert on being awesome!