Alvin Clavon has been competing at a high level.
He broke his foot back in February, and was wearing a protective boot until mid-April. But being such a dedicated competitor, he still earned several medals in a regional conference, earning a berth to a national competition in Anaheim.
How is that possible, you ask? Alvin has no super powers, and he wasn’t using any performance enhancing substances. In fact, his performance wasn’t hindered at all by his foot injury, because he was competing in dental science, dental terminology, and transcultural health. And his medals were not conferred through NCAA athletics, but through the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) conference, hosted at the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland’s Lloyd District. Throughout his senior year, Clavon studied various aspects of dentistry alongside about twenty to thirty other Benson students in his local HOSA chapter. He also conducted study rotations involving medical and nursing assisting.
“HOSA is a national organization trying to get more students interested in health occupations, and their competitions encompass a number of different medical disciplines,” says Clavon. “Benson [High School] runs a local chapter, and so because we have the health occupations discipline, I got into it. And I ended up liking the dental field a lot more than I thought I would.”
When I asked Clavon what got him into the idea of pursuing dentistry, he lit up like a gearhead talking about a high performance automobile, or an athlete regaling his choice of sport.
“So I’ve been into doing dentistry work all year, and I made it my career goal to become an oral maxillofacial surgeon. Dentistry involves the whole face. If someone got into a real bad car accident and their jaw needed to be shifted a few inches over… that would be my job, to do reconstructive surgery… which, because it involves the whole face, is not far from the brain, which means it’ll be an easier transition if I eventually want to do brain surgery later in life.”
The brain surgery thing has been a fantasy-turned-life-goal for Clavon, who explained in detail what it is about his background and disposition that makes him ideally suited for the role.
“I’ve always liked working with my hands, and I’m a very detailed person, I’m something of a perfectionist. When I figured that out about myself, then being a surgeon just made sense. Plus I’ve always been into anatomy, and surgery is the perfect way to express and explore that sense of precision.”
Alvin, currently immersed in his next chapter as a student at the University of Missouri, is well versed in the ways to silence the metaphorical haters who think that dentistry isn’t cool enough a profession to pursue.
“Hey, don’t get me wrong,” he says, smiling. “It can make you a lot of money.”
“But it’s also a way to help make a better life for your patients, and for yourself. The dentist that I shadow is very good about helping people in general, and he’s got a great manner about him, he really helps people to feel comfortable in the chair, because a lot of people have so much fear of dentists and dentistry. That’s what I like about dentistry, you can get those face-to-face interactions with people. You’re getting up-close-and-personal.”
As a final word to students who may be looking up to him, he offered this maxim: