Byrd pursues life-long love of dentistry

Ali Byrd, class of 2011, works on a dummy at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Courtesy of Ali Byrd

Ali Byrd, class of 2011, works on a dummy at the Medical University of South Carolina.

In Charleston, South Carolina a HHS  graduate lives in the historic downtown area. Dental student Ali Byrd graduated in 2011, and now attends the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston (MUSC).

“Charlestown is located on the water near the beaches. It is a lot warmer and more humid than Harrisonburg,” Byrd said.

As a dental student, her day starts by putting on scrubs and going to class from eight to five in the evening.

“Some of that time is spent sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures. The other part of my day is working in a simulation lab with the manikins,” Byrd said. “In the lab we learn how to prep cavities and fill them.”

For Byrd this is a great opportunity for her to get real hands on experience that she learns a lot from other students. Dental school varies week by week, but it can be very overwhelming as students are taking 27 and a half credit hours at MUSC.

“As a student you are very busy, being in class from eight to five then going home and studying. It has been an adjustment balancing my school and outside lives. I like to work out and hang out with my friends,” Byrd said.

As a young girl she knew that a career in dentistry was what she wanted to do.

“I was in the first grade at Spotswood Elementary, and I drew it in my journal. My mom had saved it, and right before college I had found it in my closet,” Byrd said.

She had already been interested in medicine, but didn’t like hospitals. She didn’t think that she wanted to become a doctor, but always loved to going to the dentist.

“My whole family is really weird. We all love going to the dentist, I’m actually more afraid of doctors. I’ve always had a good experience with going to the dentist,” Byrd said. “I really like how science can relate to the human body and the technology associated with it and everything you can do with medicine.”

While attending HHS and Spotswood Elementary she had two science teachers, Mr. Zook and Mr. Bair, that made science fun and entertaining for her.

“I definitely want to thank the science department for my current love of science,” Byrd said. “I also want to thank the Spanish department for me to further my education, pursue a Spanish minor, and encourage me to study abroad for a semester.”

She did not start off her after college plans in Charleston. Byrd attended James Madison University in 2011 and received a degree in Biology, and minored in Spanish and Economics.

“I’d really hope that I can use my Spanish education to treat and help Spanish-speaking families in my own practice one day. I would love to go do some mission work in a Spanish speaking countries to keep up my skills and put that to a good use,” Byrd said. “Especially with the changing demographics of our country people are learning English, but I want them to be able to feel comfortable when going to the doctor or the dentist.”

While attending HHS, Byrd was on the varsity soccer team for four years. In addition, she was elected to be the class president her senior year. Some of her memories of high school include the football team going to states, and the soccer team’s appearance in regionals her freshman year.

“High School is definitely important because it helps you determine where you go to college.  Your college choice will not really affect your future, you can do anything that you put your mind to,” Byrd said. “I didn’t get in the first year that I applied to dental school, but I tried and changed a few things on my application. The second time I got accepted, but that’s not uncommon, make sure you are willing to try again and ask for help.”