Hi everyone! My name is Maddie Stromak, and I am a junior in the Bachelor of Health Science program on the pre-dental track minoring in Spanish. I came to UF with my AA degree from high school, so I applied for the program as a freshman. I started the BHS program my sophomore year, so I could have finished this year, but I decided to lengthen my stay here at the University of Florida because I love it so much, and I want to get the most out of my college experience. Now a little bit more about me…
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I feel like that can invalidate the perspective of how someone views themselves. People can think someone is stunning, but if that person does not feel beautiful themselves, does it really matter what people think of them? For someone to believe they are beautiful, they need to feel it, not just hear it from other people.
Realizing this guided me into choosing a career that would allow me to help people feel better about themselves and find their beauty. When someone feels beautiful and confident in themselves, their whole life changes. I want to change lives by giving people the opportunity to experience confidence, high self-esteem, and beauty. I think a great way to achieve that is through giving someone a breathtaking smile. My ultimate goal is to become an orthodontist because I can help people unlock confidence they didn’t even know was in them by transforming their smile into one that they love to show off.
I came to UF with that goal in mind, and I immediately found a home. I went on a mission trip with other pre-dental students my freshman summer. We went to the Dominican Republic and worked in an orphanage assisting dentists in giving the kids dental cleanings and procedures for free. I was able to experience firsthand the positive impact that science combined with compassion can have on a person, and I want to make that my life’s mission.
I really struggled with this in high school, and I still do sometimes. No matter what people would tell me, I didn’t feel beautiful or like I was enough. For me, feeling beautiful meant waking up an hour earlier than I needed to so that I had time to do my makeup. It meant skipping meals regularly so that I felt skinny because skinny was beautiful to me. It meant heavily editing my pictures on social media so that people saw me how I wanted them to see me: beautiful. All of this took a major toll on my mental health, and I became exhausted trying to please not only others, but myself, who was my biggest critic.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 16, but I know I had been feeling it much earlier than that. I was so critical of myself and scared that people were judging me all the time. I had little to no self-esteem, and the feeling of confidence was something that I never thought I’d have the pleasure of knowing. I was sad, and in constant fear of simply being seen. I wouldn’t have wished that feeling on anyone in the world, not even my worst enemy.
I was able to start practicing those skills more often when I volunteered at Shands in the student dental clinic. There, they provide dental services for a very low cost performed by students in the College of Dentistry. I am able to shadow them, bring them supplies, organize tools, and learn how the clinic functions. I’ve also been volunteering through Delta Delta Sigma, a pre-dental honor society where we create lessons on dental hygiene for kids and lead dental hygiene supply drives for those who cannot afford it. In addition, I have participated in various activities in which we helped our local community such as organizing soccer games for children with disabilities and pet adoption days.
I want to reach as many people as I can and provide them dental care so that they can have a healthy, beautiful smile. Everyone deserves the chance at a healthy, happy life, and it is healthcare workers who practice with empathy, respect, and love who can bring that to the world. It is my aspiration to be that kind of doctor and to normalize it in healthcare all over the world.