Natalia Chavez Choque

First year dental student at the VCU School of Dentistry.

Striving & Thriving at VCU talks to Natalia about where she studies on campus, what her favorite college memory is, and what the most rewarding thing about being in the STEM field is to her.

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An interview with Natalia

Where do you prefer to study on campus? 

On campus, I haven’t tried a variety of places. Most of the time I am in this building (dentistry building). I like to study where my friends are studying because it always brings that extra support or that extra energy that you need. Especially when you are constantly studying every day it just feels like a cycle. So, you need to have a group that you can rely on for support.

What is your favorite college memory? 

One of my favorite college memories is when our Latin community at the University of Virginia had their first Latinx alumni weekend. I was able to be a part of forming that. It was my favorite because I was able to do one thing that I love the most which is dancing. I love to dance, and I dance this Bolivian dance. Being able to represent my country in a whole university that I feel like many people don’t know of was very meaningful to me.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being in the STEM field? 

The most rewarding thing about being in the STEM field is that you’re always learning. Whether it's new concepts, it’s never static. You’re always learning something. You can really see it in the dental field. Every time there are new materials coming out, new ways of doing things, new research coming out, that’s the beauty of it. There is always research coming out that we can learn from and improve to provide services. My favorite thing about STEM is always being a constant learner.

What advice would you give future STEM students? 

One of the important things for me when I entered this field was having confidence in myself. I think that’s very cliché to say but so important to have. Finding the right mentors can help you through that. Getting yourself around the right people, people that are very much willing to help you is so important to build that character. Having confidence truly allows you to get to wherever you need to go. Never be afraid to ask. Being able to speak your mind is so important for you to grow as a person. Also, for people to know that you are present. You have to show people that you are capable of many things. That you are not only representing yourself, but you are truly representing a whole community that is waiting to develop in the field.