Joshua Martin: Dart Scholar Update

Joshua Martin, a 2018 Dart Scholar, received the William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship and started his second year studying dentistry at King’s College London in 2019, and spent his summer as a Work-X student in Dart’s finance department. In addition to an exceptional academic record, Joshua is also a talented musician having played with both Cayman Prep’s swing band and the Ashbourne College House Band in London. Read on to learn more about Joshua, his experience as a Dart Scholar and his plans for the year ahead.

What led you to apply for the William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship?

Before I moved to London, I took a year off to intern in the government dental clinic in Cayman working with a pediatric dentist and then I spent time working at Books & Books which is where I learned all about the Dart Scholarship. I enjoyed getting to know people who work for Dart and I was inspired to apply. I had thought about it before because it’s based around academic excellence but really the added opportunities such as the work experience are what drew me to it. That and because I was working for a Dart company - I really got the feel for what the Dart brand is all about. I wanted to continue being a part of the company so I applied and got it!

How has being a Dart Scholar supported your studies and your career path?

Being a Dart Scholar has been helpful because it’s provided me the opportunity to explore so many different avenues with the Work-X programme. I really like that I can continue to explore careers because dentistry isn’t my only passion or area that interests me. Going in to dentistry, I was worried about feeling boxed in so I love being a part of scholarship programme that’s all about trying different things. I also like that it connects me to past Dart Scholars in my age group who are in university and have similar goals of advancing themselves.

What led you to King’s College London and how was your first year?

I chose King’s College because it’s the biggest dental school in the UK. It has a strong reputation because it’s a historic dental school and is significantly bigger than other schools meaning we have more research opportunities than other schools. My dream was to go there and I was so excited to get in. I had to remind myself of this on days during the first year when I was thinking about all the work I had ahead of me because the first year is all theoretical learning! King’s College is connected to a hospital with dental wards which provides us with opportunities to assist fourth year dental students with actual patients. I would hand them the tools and help with basic tasks in the clinic which provided a great opportunity to be exposed to a real setting with regular patients.

Were you in involved in any other activities during your first year?

I am involved in Smile Society which is a dental outreach programme. We volunteer to go in to local primary schools in the poorer areas of London and talk to the kids about different things involving dental health. Because I was first year, I couldn’t get too technical yet so we talked about diet tips for oral health, basic things such as drinking soda out of a straw to prevent damage to your teeth. Now that kids have access to smart phones, we taught them about apps that can help educate them about oral health as well. For example, there is a popular app where kids can take a photo of the bar code on a candy bar and it will show the kids the amount of sugar in terms of sugar cubes. It’s a great way to use technology to help them understand as they aren’t going to grasp the concept from reading a nutrition label but if they see the stack of sugar cubes they are consuming, they have an easier time understanding why we encourage them to make healthier decisions. I plan to continue working with Smile Society and once I’m in my second and third years, I can speak to the more technical things such as how to properly brush your teeth and floss. I’ve really enjoyed it because the areas we go to tend to have kids that are raised in London but their families are from the Caribbean or Africa so it’s really cool thing for them to see me as the dental professional coming in. It’s important to show them that dentistry is a career path that’s viable for them as well.

What’s on the horizon for your second year?

The second year is when we begin hands on dental technique training. It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m really excited for this. So much of the first year is spent almost sitting and waiting while you learn all about the anatomy. This year will be so much hands on learning and more time in the clinic and I’m really looking forward to it.

Tell us about your 2019 summer Work-X experience? Did it help with your current career path or is this a chance for you to see other options out there?

This past summer I helped in the finance department, going through financial statements and learning how to read and analyse the data, which are both great transferable skills to learn. I also worked on the Camana Bay gift card programme, inputting and analyzing data.

For my long term career path, I definitely see myself opening my own dental practice back in Cayman. My degree will take five years to complete and then it’s a bit hard to predict but I do know I ultimately want to come back. This is why the summer Work-X experience has been so helpful as I’ve been able to help the finance team and learn areas that will be beneficial in the future when I have my own practice. I might stay in London for a few years for the professional development opportunities but Cayman is my home.

Do you have any advice for other students that are looking at studying STEM subjects?

Take the time to see what areas you naturally are drawn to and keep an open mind in terms of which subjects spark your interest. Always make sure to expose yourself to different voices on subjects, if you’re learning a concept, go watch different YouTube videos or ask your teachers as it only takes one person to explain something in the right way for it to click and you will suddenly realise how interested you are in that field and it can change everything.