March 2010
Welcome to Pathways!
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Our goal is to serve as a resource for you as you navigate the pathway through school and, ultimately, to a health career. Each month, you'll receive career and college planning tips, advice and resources to help you make your health career dreams a reality.

News from NC-HCAP...

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NC-HCAP now has a home on Facebook. Stay connected to NC-HCAP and all the resources and activities we offer to help you make your health career dreams a reality.
In This Issue
Motivational Minute
Health Careers 101
Spotlight on Success
Strategies for Success
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The North Carolina Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) is located at UNC-Chapel Hill. Additional campus-based centers are located at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Established in 1971 by Dr. Cecil G. Sheps, we work to increase the number of underrepresented minorities or economically and/or educationally disadvantaged students who are educated, trained and employed in the health professions.

For more than 35 years, we have provided thousands of students with a variety of programs and activities to raise their awareness of opportunities available within the health professions and to increase their competitiveness as health professional school applicants.

We're always here to assist you. Simply contact us at:

(919) 966-2264
[email protected]
Motivational Minute

"You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were, and I say 'Why not'?"

George Bernard Shaw

There are many paths we can follow in this life. Hopefully the one you choose will lead to your goals and dreams becoming a reality. There are no limits to what you can accomplish and there are TONS of possibilities for what you can become in life. Don't be afraid to launch out and be daring enough to go for it.

Health Careers 101

Would you love the opportunity to help others smile a bit brighter and gain more self-confidence? Have you considered the field of dentistry?

Not only can you become a dentist, but there are also different specialty areas as well that are really important in helping people care for their teeth, gums, and jaws - on their way to keeping and maintaining a beautiful smile.

Examines and treats problems of the teeth, gums, tongue, lips and jaw

Salary: $136,340

Education: To become a dentist, you must complete at least three years of college work, but its preferable to obtain a bachelor's degree before applying to dental school.

Want to know more? There are different specialists, including: endodontist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, pediatric dentist, periodontist, prosthodontist.

Want other options? There are other professionals in dentistry besides the dentist. Consider becoming a dental assistant, dental hygienist or dental laboratory technician. 

Hot Link: Visit org for more information. 

Source: NC-HCAP Health Careers Information & Enrichment Workshop manual
Spotlight on Success

Can't Stop Smiling
Passion plus planning lead to success

By Renee Sprink

As a youngster, Robert Selden occasionally spent time in his father's dentist office, which sparked his curiosity about the field of dentistry. And of course, delighted his father. Selden's dad had hoped that one of his children would follow in his footsteps, but he learned early on not to push them into the field. "He exposed us to it, but didn't push us into it," recalls Selden.

It wasn't until he was a freshman in high school, however, that Selden ultimately made the decision to pursue a career in dentistry. "When I was in the ninth grade, I had an impacted tooth and needed braces. When I went to the oral surgeon to have the impacted tooth exposed, the dentist asked if I wanted to watch the procedure. Of course, I did! So they propped up a mirror and I watched them expose that tooth. I was fascinated with the entire process," says Selden. That experience, a lengthy bout with braces and a strong relationship with this orthodontist sealed his fate. He was bound for the dental profession. 

Selden graduated from high school in 1990 and enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Once on campus he began to carefully plot an academic plan of action. He declared a major in chemistry and loaded his academic plate with health science courses. He looked for mentors and advisors who could assist and point him in the right direction; he sought out networking opportunities with dental school officials and enrichment programs to further prepare him. "I prepared so much as an undergraduate that getting into dental school was a cinch," states Selden. "I did everything everyone told me to do. They said 'do research.' So I did research. They said 'do SEP and do well.' I did that. 'Do MED and do well.' I did that too. How could they turn down someone who did everything they were supposed to do? I was able to take away some of the anxiety of applying to dental school by preparing, and that's where the SEP program came in."

The summer following his sophomore year, Selden participated in NC-HCAP's Science Enrichment Preparation (SEP) Program. He credits the program with his preparedness as a dental school applicant and with his successful entry into dental school. "It was there that I learned how to prepare for and take the DAT (dental admission exam), how to improve my reading skills and how to manage my time. Because of my SEP experience and the skills I learned during the eight weeks of the program, I was confident about getting into dental school," claims Selden. So confident in fact, that he applied to only one school, the UNC School of Dentistry. His preparation paid off. After receiving his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1994, he began his professional education that same fall. He graduated from dental school in 1998 and completed his orthodontics residency, also at UNC, in 2001.

After completing his formal education (11 years worth), the first thing Selden did was wonder what to do next. "Everything was always building toward 'what's next?'" recalls Selden. " I was finally at the end of my training and I found myself with a choice to make: 'Do I go into academics or into private practice?'" He decided to start his own practice. "I took a part time job with a group practice in general dentistry in Charlotte. That was to pay the bills. Then, I went about a mile out of their [the group practice] restrictive covenant and set up my private practice," shares Selden. No longer under contract with the group, Selden is now fully committed to his own practice, Selden Orthodontics, which he proudly says is "thriving."

It is difficult for Selden to hide his excitement and passion for dentistry. "It's a health industry and a service industry. You really do impact the quality of people's lives," he says. "One of my new patients was missing a front tooth and her other teeth had moved, leaving them crooked. She was in her 40s and wanted to do something to increase her self-esteem. After months of trying, we got her teeth straightened and I was able to put a 'flipper' [an artificial tooth] in that space, giving her a nice, straight smile," says Selden. "She broke down crying when she looked in the mirror; a nice smile is all it took to increase her confidence. That is what excited me about being an orthodontist: when people who were once ashamed of their appearance now can't stop smiling at other! I'm changing them on the outside, but ultimately changing them on the inside, too. That's what drives me!"

Today, Selden is an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Dentistry, fulfilling his goal to return to academia. He was also recently named the president of the Old North State Dental Society. These days Selden is committed to his practice and to increasing the number of minorities in both health care professions and academia. 

Strategies for Success
Five Helpful Tips for Studying

There are hundreds of ways to study, but finding the method that works best for you is the key to successful studying. Once you find that method, make a habit of studying. By developing good study habits, you put the wheels in motion to earn better grades and achieve academic success.

Here are some tips to help you on your way.

  1. Take good notes and attend all classes. Taking good notes during class will aid you during your study time. Use your notes as a reference and refer to your textbook.
  2. Create a schedule for studying. Making a schedule and outlining a specific time (same time each day) for your studies keeps you in the habit of studying. You should study for at least 45 minutes every day even if you don't have an assignment or a test for the next day.
  3. Find a good study partner. Studying with someone who will contribute to your learning is a plus. Pick a partner that is serious about studying and not one that is looking for a time to socialize. Compare notes and ask each other questions.
  4. Find a good study area. Finding a good study area is important. It should be an area that is clean, quiet, has good lighting  and no distractions. This will allow you to concentrate solely on your studies.
  5. Make the most of your study time. Planning is an important part of your studying. Inform your friends and others in your house of your study times. This way you are less likely to be disturbed. Be mindful of your time, so you don't waste it.
College Planning and Preparation
Access resources to plan, apply and pay for college at
College Search
Browse college rankings, research and evaluate different colleges and universities, and pick the best match to meet your needs at
Financial Aid
High School Seniors, electronically submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

The Carolina Covenant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a college financing commitment between the university and historically low-income youth in North Carolina. Find out more at

Enrichment Programs
For information about additional health professions enrichment programs, activities, and summer camps in your local area, contact the NC Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in your area.

Health Careers
Explore a wide variety of health careers at

  Meet Ms. Rivera
As the pre-college outreach coordinator, Koyah Rivera is responsible for planning, developing and implementing pre-college outreach initiatives across North Carolina.

Before joining NC-HCAP, Rivera was employed as a college admissions counselor at Shaw University in Raleigh. She has served as a Language Arts teacher for Wake County Public Schools and TV news producer/writer at two NBC TV stations. She is also the founder/executive director/TV host of Beyond Gifted, Inc., a non-profit organization which produces the "Beyond Gifted" television program to assist K-12 students in developing post-secondary plans to reach school and life success. She received dual B.A. degrees in communications and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.