“I grew up in a broken home, like lots of Americans. When my parents separated, I lived with my mother. To say we lived paycheck to paycheck is an understatement. My mother never talked about finances, she wanted me to have a ‘normal’ high school experience. After high school, I left home to be a missionary in Panamá for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A week after I left home my mother revealed her financial situation. No more charades, we lost the house. I always thought, ‘I want to be able to pay forward what my mom has sacrificed.’ When I was little, I partially knocked out a front upper tooth while riding my bike. I pushed it back in because I didn’t want to get in trouble. It healed up, turned gray, and then over time it just turned white again. I was like, “Whoa, what’s going on?” That sparked an interest in dentistry, and I knew it was a profession that will allow me to one day help my mom.
What I didn’t expect was that dentistry would connect me with my heritage. Both of my parents are immigrants who came to the U.S. as teenagers. Neither of them has formal degrees from any American school systems. My mother is from a small village in West Africa. She grew up with nine older siblings in a tightknit community. My father grew up in Haiti. He never talked much about his childhood, but from the stories he told, I knew it was harsh and that he was forced to be independent at a young age. Haiti is a part of my heritage I always felt a need to connect with. During my second year of dental school, I found out about an opportunity to do free dental care in Haiti. The organization I went with is called Haiti Health Initiative, they provide free dental and medical work twice a year in a rural town in Haiti. My experience volunteering in Haiti was life-changing. I love using my dental skills to help underserved individuals, however, my volunteer trips to Haiti are most meaningful because I get to spend time with and learn from the Haitian people. It’s helped me connect with a side of my father that I never really understood.”
—Adam Hiné, Class of 2020, Doctor of Dental Surgery, School of Dentistry