Graduating from dental school is an interesting milestone, in that you’re celebrating the end of something which is really the start of something else. At least that’s how Chelsea Murphy sees it.
“It’s kind of a cool crossroads in all of our lives,” Murphy says. “Every day is a bridge from the past to the future, but I think you just think about it more at graduation. And you’ve worked so hard to get there.”
The “something else” Murphy is starting is an orthodontics residency at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. She’ll take with her fond memories of the UConn School of Dental Medicine. Before that, she’ll address her class at commencement Monday in Storrs.
“I love my class. I think we’re a great group of people. I learned a lot from how the other people around me learned,” Murphy says. “We have great faculty who care a lot about us and a lot of them strike a nice balance of treating us like equals, like we’re their colleagues, but also mentoring. That makes a big difference. The way we relate to the faculty has made it much more enjoyable. I think you get a lot more out of it.”
After graduating from Coginchaug Regional High School in Durham, Murphy went to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., to study economics. But she says dentistry was on her mind the whole time.
“I always knew I wanted to go to dental school, I think since I was 9 years old, so when I got to undergrad I felt like I could complete all the pre-health courses but I could do something else to round out my education,” she says. “I knew nothing about economics and I thought that was really scary. But I liked it. It’s not really how my brain works, so I wanted to try to make it work that way.”
While she wasn’t necessarily looking to come back to Connecticut, Murphy says the opportunity to study dental medicine at UConn was “too wonderful of a deal to pass up.” The idea of the concurrent curriculum with the first two years of medical school presented another opportunity to round out her education.
Murphy says what initially attracted her to dentistry as a profession was the artistry of it, and that holds true today.
“I really love the aesthetic cases, and things like that,” she says. “And I knew that I wanted a dynamic career, something a little bit different every day, and I wanted to interact with people.”
Influenced by her father, who owned a number of small businesses, Murphy has her sights on someday owning her own practice.
When she enters the profession as an orthodontist in two more years, she expects dentistry to be a profession that still has a lot of room to grow.
“That’s one of the things that I like about dentistry: there’s always something new to learn and you can really personalize your practice,” Murphy says. “There are a lot of options. I like that, how you can really make it your own. You get to have your own style, which is nice.”