Adam Yang ’20

Major: Politics

Profession: Dental Student

Hometown: Vancouver, BC, and Tustin, CA

What are you doing now?

I am a dental student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, but we spend our first year of training as a medical student at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated hospitals. Outside of the classroom, I am the president-elect of the American Student Dental Association chapter at Harvard and love watching hockey and playing soccer.

How did you get there?

At Pomona, I took advantage of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Pomona College Internship Program and a variety of work and teaching opportunities. However, what really pushed me to become who I am today were my mentors—Biology Professor Jon Moore, Soccer Coach Bill Swartz and Claremont McKenna College Government Professor Ken Miller. Whether it was in the classroom, at the biology lab or on the soccer field, all my mentors encouraged me to pursue my dreams. More importantly, they also pointed out my shortcomings and gave me the opportunity and room to grow. They were patient, kind and brilliant. They listened to my stories and struggles without judgment. They asked me hard questions. Throughout this process, instead of telling me exactly what to do or who to become, Dr. Moore, Coach Swartz and Dr. Miller taught me how to self-reflect, believe in myself and grow from my mistakes. Without their mentorship and encouragement, I would not have been able to work for the California state legislature as a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow during the pandemic before attending dental school.

How did Pomona prepare you?

Because of the Consortium, I was able to take advantage of Pomona’s natural science classes as well as CMC’s policy courses and the Washington program. I managed to not only fulfill my pre-dental requirement but also follow my passion for public policy. Looking back, I think the best thing about Pomona and the Career Development Office (CDO) is that no one ever told me to give up an idea or a career path because it has not been done before. During my senior year, I worked with the CDO to apply to public policy fellowships as well as dental schools.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I will have served as the district 1 trustee or the national president for the American Student Dental Association and graduated from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. I will probably be in my periodontology residency or work as a general dentist focused on geriatric care.

Any advice for current or prospective students?

Be confident and believe in yourself. Set your goals early and focus on your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, but learn to dismiss what is unhelpful or incompatible with your path as well. Don’t limit your learning to the classroom. There is so much to gain and experience through sports, internships and jobs. If your only failure is getting a less-than-ideal grade for a class, you have not experienced failure at all.