Q & A with University of Maryland School of Dentistry Student Sophia Heitzig

Sophia Heitzig is a third-year dental student at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore. She graduated from UMD in 2020 with a B.S. in Physiology & Neurobiology and a minor in Spanish. She was also part of the College Park Scholars-Life Sciences Program.

Why dentistry?

"Sophia Heitzig"
Sophia Heitzig

During college, I was able to go on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. That was the first time that I was introduced to dentistry and I just fell in love with it. And now that I’m in dental school, it’s a lot more real to me to see how dental work can impact someone’s life. For example, a chip in a front tooth can affect someone’s confidence or a tooth infection can impact their health systemically. 


What extracurricular activities do you think best prepared you for dental school? 

I did local outreach with Mission of Mercy and went on the Global Brigades trip. It was amazing because I got to do so much hands-on clinical work. One thing I will say is that, if students have the opportunity, they should take a language; it’s been so rewarding for me to get to treat patients in Spanish. Whatever you choose to do in college, dive into it full force because you never know what'll help you in dental school one day. 


What are the challenges you face in dental school?

The number one would be time, 100%. It's just hard when you're at school a lot and also have normal life things that you have to get done. And then also comparing yourself. Because now, we're really in the clinic seeing our own patients, and it's very easy to compare yourself to your other classmates. Like, “Oh, look, they're not getting yelled at by the professor.” It's very difficult sometimes but I just try to remember that I am in my own lane and I will finish and graduate too. 


What hobbies do you have outside of dentistry and how do you balance that?

I like to run, cook, and I have a food Instagram. And I like to do work with my church. I've been learning that it's important to take that time for yourself. In college, in dental school, and all through life, you need a balance. But I think also, we made a sacrifice to go to professional school. So you might not get to run as much as you want or you might not get to see people as much as you want, and that's hard, but it's important to not let it affect your mental health.


What advice would you give your younger self?

I think I would tell my younger self: just don't let school become your identity. It's just so dangerous to let your identity be tied to what you do as a student because ultimately we’re all human and we’re going to make mistakes. So, find something else that grounds you. For me, it's in my faith that I find my identity. But it could be anything,


What drew you to your particular dental school? 

A lot of the dentists that I had shadowed were also alumni of UMSOD and they all said they felt super prepared by the school and felt like they were ready. And also, an important secondary reason: nothing beats in-state tuition. 


How and when did you prepare for the DAT? 

I studied for three months in the summer after my sophomore year and then took it in August. For studying, I recommend DAT Bootcamp. For math, I supplemented with DAT Destroyer.


Is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

I would just emphasize that it’s really exciting that we can treat our own patients in our third year. I schedule my own patients, I treat them and I'm doing fillings. I'm doing all these things. I think that's just something to look forward to as a dental student.