Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Valentina Leonett, D2, made her way to the U.S. after graduating high school and is currently halfway through her program at A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH). Leonett is one of ATSU’s few international students.
Leonett actively participates within various organizations and activities on campus and currently serves as president of two different student organizations – Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) and Students United with America’s ToothFairy (SUAT). She is vice president for Student National Dental Association and a member of ASDOH Association of Women Dentists, as well as Special Care Dental Association.
Growing up in Venezuela, Leonett started working with underserved populations early on in life.
“My involvement with HSDA, SUAT, and ATSU-ASDOH’s public health curriculum has allowed me to continue to do so and solidified my desire to work with these populations.” Leonett said. “My goal after graduation is to begin practicing as a general dentist while giving back to those in need. My overall goal in life is to inspire others to go down this path and have a positive impact in my community.”
Leonett was inspired by her parents, who are both dentists. Though she was already passionate about dentistry, her parents encouraged her to shadow other medical professionals to ensure dentistry was the right fit.
“My parents wanted me to be sure about my decision, so they encouraged me to shadow other professionals in the healthcare field. I quickly learned that I loved the idea of being a doctor, and even though I considered applying to other programs, nothing compared to how I feel about this profession,” Leonett added.
Leonett is right at home at ATSU; she knew it from the moment she stepped on campus. She appreciated how everyone she met was genuinely happy and felt their energy was contagious. She felt ATSU-ASDOH provided the perfect balance of curriculum to challenge her academically, but also leave room for her to enjoy her four years of dental school.
Leonett is excited to be halfway through her program and happy to provide encouragement to others who are interested in following in her footsteps. When asked what advice she would offer someone who is just starting out, she highly recommends shadowing.
“Use some of your free time to shadow different dentists and specialties,” Leonett said. “Even though we all undergo similar schooling, every dentist is different, and every specialty is different. Shadowing will allow you to get a better understanding of everything dentistry has to offer while learning from different professionals.”
When she is not busy with school, student organizations, or giving back to her community, Leonett loves working out and staying active, and she helps others do the same by teaching Zumba at the YMCA every couple of weeks.