Alumni Profile: Venus Tran, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2024

Hey Mustangs!!

My name is Venus and the number one thing I reminded myself throughout my journey to dental school (and even now) was that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I am a first-generation college student from San Jose, CA and have been paving my own path throughout my life and academic journey. At Cal Poly, I already considered myself to be a non-traditional applicant because aside from the prerequisites for dental school admissions, I took a considerable amount of marine biology and ecology courses because I wanted to learn about the world outside of human physiology and anatomy—what I’ll be studying and learning for the rest of my life. I also couldn’t pass up the plethora of opportunities to learn about the ecosystems that surround the Central Coast.

I received my B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2019. I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry at a young age, but after my first quarter at Cal Poly, I was placed on academic probation (AP). A myriad of obstacles arose during my time at Cal Poly that prevented me from fully devoting myself to academics. I knew that my GPA was not going to highlight my application, so my extracurriculars and DAT had to pull the weight. Throughout my time at Cal Poly, the most influential roles for my growth were in: Women’s Club Basketball team, Treasurer and Club Representative of the Pre-Dental Society, Chair (President) of the Club Sports Council, and I fortunately got off the waitlist for the human cadaver dissection for my last quarter at Cal Poly, so I dissected the human cadaver along with two pre-medical students for my senior project, and I even took a ceramics class for a quarter at the Craft Center. I decided to devote my time to study and take the DAT during the summer going into my fourth year and I knew that I had to do well—I scored a 21 and was ecstatic about it. Fast forward to my fourth year at Cal Poly… I still had the same dream of becoming a dentist, but had to prove that I had the academic potential to do so. After searching for other avenues to gain admission into dental school to improve my science GPA, I applied for and completed a M.S. in Oral Health Sciences at Boston University in 2020 to enhance my academic credentials and became the first member of my family to hold a Master’s degree. Moving across the country to a big city after spending the last four years in SLO was a much-needed change-in-scenery, although I’ll always miss the Central Coast and the gems found there!

I applied to dental school during my first semester of my Master’s program, so I did not get any interviews until post-December after my grades were finalized. Everyone is on their own timeline and everything will fall into place as they are meant to be. Despite not getting my first interview until January, I kept my faith in the process and remained patient. Most importantly, it only takes ONE acceptance and that’s all that matters in the end! My top advice for admissions is to keep all extracurriculars organized, reflect on what you’ve learned throughout all your involvements, and find whatever you are passionate about and pursue it—academically and personally. Your personality, experiences, and what you bring to the table outside of the clinic matter much more in the long run as a provider and when treating patients from all backgrounds—it’s really not all about getting good grades (although never hurts)! During my spare time, I enjoy spending time outdoors such as hiking, hammocking, rollerblading, playing basketball and running throughout the city.

I recently completed my first year at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston and I could not imagine myself anywhere else. My class started the school year during the COVID-19 pandemic so many, many things were uncertain throughout the year, but having a solid foundation of friends that quickly turned into family has made dental school that much more meaningful. Cal Poly and Boston University have greatly prepared me for TUSDM’s

curriculum and finding my school-life balance early in my dental school career. I am always so humbled when I think back to being placed on AP after my first quarter at Cal Poly to making the Dean’s List after my first year at Tufts. *Started from the bottom, now we here!*

In addition to academics, Cal Poly also prepared me for the leadership positions that I sought after this year. For my second year, I will be the Treasurer for Global Health Students Association where we focus on service trips to underserved countries, Co-President of the Tufts Dental Aesthetics Society, and a founding member of an interdisciplinary initiative between Tufts Dental and Medical students called Cherish Chinatown.

Following the rise in anti-Asian hate around the country and taking in consideration that all Tufts health sciences campuses are located in Boston’s Chinatown, one of my best friends/classmate and I decided we take action, especially with our positions as future health professionals. After collaborating with Tufts staff, dental and medical students, Cherish Chinatown was formulated. Cherish Chinatown is a two part initiative that aims to 1) Educate and highlight Tufts’ implications as an institution and our roles as healthcare providers in the Chinatown community and 2) Community outreach, which includes service projects such as community clean-ups and gardening to beautify local school campuses. More details here: Cherish Chinatown Initiative

I have only ever fantasized that I’d be in this position today—doing well in dental school, having a great group of friends, pursuing extracurricular activities that I’m passionate about, but always reminding myself of my roots and perseverance that made me the person I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful. It’s never too late and I’m never alone in this journey (and neither are you). KEEP GOING!!! I’ve had to repeat one gen chem course, failed and repeated two organic chemistry courses, and even withdrew from biochemistry during my fourth year, but it all worked out. You never know what you’ll accomplish if you quit when obstacles present themselves along the road, but also be honest with yourself because no one knows you better than you.

If you made it this far—thank you for your time and GOOD LUCK with all future endeavors! Cal Poly has prepared us so well for this. I hope you gained at least one thing from hearing about my journey to DMD. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for anything! I’m here to help :)


Venus D. Tran, M.S.

Tufts Dental Class of 2024