Wide-eyed advanced placement

26 June 2020

Shivani Desai, DDS '20

I arrived in Canada from India in 2016 as a naïve, wide-eyed 25-year-old girl who had never been independent. I had lived with my parents in a very sheltered environment where the next step after getting an academic degree was to get married and raise a family.

It was, hence, extremely liberating for me to be able to live in a country where I could chase my dreams without worrying about what the "society" will say. It has been a fantastic journey so far with experiences that have shaped my life and changed me as a person.

Advanced placement

I have worked odd jobs to support myself when I was not in school. I worked as a receptionist and sold toothbrushes at Costco. I flipped burgers at convenience stands and sold toys at events. These jobs taught me the importance of honest labour and hard work.

It was not easy to be able to re-qualify in Canada. For all of us who are Advanced Placement students, going back to school takes a combination of a lot of grit, determination, and hard work. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all the Advanced Placement students who have made great sacrifices to be able to stand at the podium, albeit virtually, and accept the DDS degree. It did not come without its share of blood, sweat, and tears.


I would also like to share a life experience that has been an incredible personal triumph for me. I suffered a severe concussion during the fall semester of the third year of dental school, just before the final exam week. For somebody who has grown up as an only child and pampered through life, the absence of physical familial support was incredibly challenging.

I could barely get out of bed or be able to work without feeling dizzy and confused. It was a long journey back to full recovery. The emotional support extended to me by close friends and family kept me motivated and determined to finish that semester and the next without deferring course work and compromising patient care.

This experience has made me a stronger, independent person who is now not afraid to overcome any difficulties that may come my way.

Beautiful memories

U of A has given me such beautiful memories. I will always cherish the time I spent here. I feel very privileged and proud to now be an alumnus of this great institution, my home away from home.