Born and raised in the United States, Katherine Loi’s parents were Vietnamese Chinese refugees who fled the Vietnam War in 1975. But being a first-generation college student did not hinder Loi. She graduated from the USC Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, served as captain in the U.S. Army and launched a mentorship website, all in a matter of five years.
For the past four years, she has provided dental care to men and women of the armed services as a captain stationed in Oklahoma. Living so far away from the community of Los Angeles and USC led her to realize the difficulty of searching for mentorship in dentistry.
“USC Dental School is the most expensive dental school in the world,” Loi said. “I had already taken out several loans. I was feeling my pocket empty while my uniformed friends were carefree.”
Loi searched for new ways to offer assistance to dental and pre-dental students at USC. She launched “Get Your Dentist On,” a free online mentorship resource which provides resources and offers guidance to students regardless of their background or stage in the application process. The site provides information geared toward helping students accomplish their professional desires.
Some of the features it includes are facts on both the pros and cons of being a dentist, what dental schools look for in applications and the application timeline.
“I felt like in today’s climate we needed more diverse voices that relate to our modern society,” Loi said. “I wanted to offer a new outlook on dentistry from a unique perspective.”
It was a traumatic car accident that propelled Loi to believe that medicine was her calling, but what most interested her about dentistry were the relationships in family dental practices between the patient and doctor. Loi’s story manifests itself through the material published on her website, as she reflects on her own experiences and paves the way for future dentists.
“The hardest part about starting the program was writing the content,” Loi said. “This took a lot of introspection. It was difficult for me to write about myself. I had to look deep within myself and consider why I decided to pursue dentistry. The most rewarding part about the website is the positive feedback that I have gotten from pre-dental applicants and my peers.”