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Tuesday
03/27/18

I am the Bahama Mama

Posted by caaponte on March 27, 2018 in Reflection, Senior Year, Uncategorized

My favorite thing in the world is watching the sunrise and the sunset with people close to me.

Be quick about it – just like Robert Frost said, “Nothing gold can stay.” The majestic nature of both the sunrise and the sunset are so beautiful that it is impossible for them to last longer than a few minutes. The small portion of the day that they reveal themselves is what makes them so special.

Tuesday
03/27/18

Love for Squad

Posted by caaponte on March 27, 2018 in Buffalo, Family, Reflection, Senior Year

SPRING BREAK AM I RIGHT!?

I was lucky enough to go on a cruise with 30+ of my friends where we sailed off to Port Carnaval and the Bahamas. Upon returning, everyone asked how it was but WHERE do I even begin?

I can tell you we didn’t get a full group picture and that everyone on the ship knew the Buffalo group VERY well. We’re a group of charismatic people…what can I say.

I can tell you we tried new foods..and lots of it. From duck to grouper to steak to cakes and pastries and back again.

I can tell you we had no service and were all pleasantly surprised with how good it felt to step away from social media.

I can tell you to wear sunscreen and to expect sand to take days to completely come out of your hair (and suitcase).

I can tell you that the Bahamas sunrise is worth waking up early. The water is as crystal clear as it appears on Google. No one Michael Jackson himself spent $100,000+ to spend a mere four nights in Atlantis (more than once I might add). Oh, and add watching the sunset with your best friends to your bucket list.

I can tell you that it was incredible to be surrounded by people in such a great mood. The positive spirit was contagious and I can’t wait to make more memories with these amazing people.

Specifically, I can’t reveal much more. Why?

1. Because there is not enough space in this blog and 2. Because some things stay between my friends and myself.

But….I can tell you that time is the one thing we can never get back. No matter how much money you make or how successful you are, you can never go back in time.

So thank you Squad 🙂 For understanding that I’m still adjusting to my new sense of self, for understanding my limitations, for being a shoulder to lean on when I needed it most (shoutout to Jesse, Shannon, and Christina), for missing my corny jokes (shoutout to Keesh), for welcoming us all in your home (shoutout to Ebron) and for reminding me that I’m still me (shoutout to you all). I love you more than I can express in this blog post.

 

Tuesday
03/13/18

I miss you, Kate

Posted by caaponte on March 13, 2018 in Family, Reflection

Going to school means sacrificing time spent with family and friends with the hope that upon graduation, you can return to your respective home and finally catch up to those you’ve neglected during the semester. You trust that everyone will still be there. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.

I lost a very good friend of mine this past week, 23 years young. I have trouble concentrating when my mind is already busy reminiscing. It’s hard to expect that over the duration of four years – nothing traumatic could possibly occur that may interrupt your studies. Kate wouldn’t want to distract me, in fact she’d want the very opposite. She was always adamant that I stay focused and encouraged me to finish my last semester at UB strong.

I’ve been going through old letters she had written me and I cannot believe how much time has passed. They say there is no time like the present and that’s because you can never guarantee that time will stop while you’re busy working in another direction.

She would want me to be happy and do well in my last semester. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to work harder than ever to make her proud.

Tuesday
03/13/18

Graduating? Who..me!?

Posted by caaponte on March 13, 2018 in Futuristic Thinking, Reflection, Senior Year

I have completely ignored the notices to pick up my cap and gown until now. It wasn’t really the money…it was more about facing the fact that I am graduating in just a couple weeks and I do not want to face it.

No more spontaneous trips to Buffalo’s many places to eat

No more going downstairs to find my housemates

…no more stealing my housemates’ food

No more texting our GroupMe to meet up every night of the week

No more stressing over exams (yes, I am going to miss that)

There is something so incredible in stressing over the same things with a large group of people. We are not all certain about where we are headed to upon graduation. But, that’s okay. Whether we are in Buffalo or some other city, I know we are all confidently moving to the next step.

 

Now for that cap and gown…..

Tuesday
01/30/18

New Year, New Me…Literally

Posted by caaponte on January 30, 2018 in Senior Year

First day of school and we are asked to introduce ourselves. Normally not an issue…except for this time.

I had double jaw surgery on January 4th, 2018 but had to go back into surgery on January 26th, 2018 to readjust the lower jaw. So this means my braces are still on, people are still unable to recognize me, I can’t open my mouth wide enough to pronounce words correctly, parts of my face are still numb, and I still do not know what the end product will be. My surgeon can show me the schematics of his incisions but not of the covering tissue.

So what does this mean for me?

It is truly a test of patience and bravery. Patience because it is uncommon to have to go in for a second operation. Bravery because I am afraid I will never regain sensation in my face. The swelling should go completely down in 6 months to a year and my nerves should regain complete feeling in about a year. Every case is different so I just have to be optimistic.

Being on the liquid diet, I stop at Jamba Juice a little more often than usual and always have straws on hand.  But still, I am hungry – All. The. Time.

Doing things that are part of my normal routine help me feel more like myself. I cannot work for 2-3 weeks, I cannot workout for 6 weeks and I cannot participate in contact sports for 6 months. For right now, I feel dizzy after just 2 hours of walking around. But, I take a picture every day to remind myself how far I have come.

I do not know anyone who has had the procedure done but that’s where online blogs and YouTube videos have come in handy. Everyone says their lives have dramatically changed for the better so that helps keep me thinking positively. It will all be worth it and I can’t wait to show my before and after photos!

Wednesday
11/22/17

It’s a Wrap

Posted by caaponte on November 22, 2017 in Fall Semester, Reflection, Senior Year

After physical testing, academic review, interviewing, and a boat load of paperwork. I am finally finished with my application to the Health Professions Scholarship Program through the United States Navy. If I’m one of the lucky few, the fingerprints I took this morning will lead to serving our military personnel as a General Dentist.

 

Are you tough enough for this?

Are you ready to wake up at 4am to workout?

Are you aware you may be at sea?

Are you able to assert yourself in a group full of veterans?

 

For me, it is a crucial portion of my ultimate goal. The combination of serving my country and traveling while utilizing the skillset I will have acquired in dental school….I cannot think of anything better.

In the next few months, so much is about to be uncovered. I have never been in a position where I won’t know where I’ll be in the next year. But in less than 20 days…. I will know where I stand for the rest of my life. This career offers so much growth and I cannot wait to begin the next chapter of my journey.

Wednesday
11/22/17

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by caaponte on November 22, 2017 in Family

You know those moments when you say to yourself, “It’s time for a new tradition.” This year, my mom and I have decided that we should do something amongst ourselves. Long story short, it would be nice to have something new to plan and in turn, look forward to.

The idea of Thanksgiving still remains – we are just recreating how we view it. I feel more blessed than I have ever felt. Being the first Thanksgiving without my grandfather, I hope to keep his legacy alive by celebrating what it means to be part of a Puerto Rican/ Colombian family.

Passion, Respect, and Love for each other.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday
10/26/17

Being a Teaching Assistant

Posted by caaponte on October 26, 2017 in Fall Semester, Future of the United States, Senior Year, University Life

During my freshman year, if you asked me if I would ever be a TA – my response would be:

Absolutely not

Why? Well because, why would I add additional responsibilities to my own responsibilities that I am working to balance.

Fast forward to my senior year – choosing to be a TA is single-handedly one of – if not the best – decision I have made to date. Why? Because it is not an added responsibility. It is a humble reminder of how far we have all come in our undergraduate careers and how much more room we have to grow. I am supposed to be teaching them, but I never realized that they would also be teaching me. They each arrived to UB with a history of trauma, disappointment, some form of loss, and often with the idea that AP Biology would make the transition easy. Their stories have inspired me to continue moving forward even when I feel as though I have too much on my plate. In fact, hearing them confident enough to share my story makes me feel as though a support group during your fall semester of freshmen year is absolutely crucial.

I lead my own lab but I assist in another with one of my best friends. We try to create a judge-free environment because we remember how intimidating it was sitting amongst 28 others in Evolutionary Biology. Students don’t yet realize that they don’t need to ask permission to use the restroom and refrain from participating in lab because they aren’t yet confident in their answers.

As their TA, I hope to assist them in the transition to university life. I’ve lived it. I understand it. Every semester has had its ups and downs and I’m not afraid to share that with my students. I share with them how I tackled more difficult topics. I hope that my stories have inspired them to reach their potentials and to want more from their education.

The undergraduate degree is more than just academic growth. Toward the end of the semester, I will ask them to reflect on their undergraduate experience and hope to find that the highs and lows have only promoted personal growth.

In the meantime, I continue to revamp the way I run my lab. There is no perfect way to monitor or teach a group of 28 students from all different backgrounds, but I will continue trying my best. I hope others can follow my lead and choose to TA a class. I hope that they get as much out of the experience as I have and see the value in instructing the next generation of STEM students. It helps you visualize that this field is much larger than just you. When you plan to meet with a student, the exam you have the next day can wait until after you help the freshman sitting before you transition to university life.

Tuesday
10/10/17

AmeriCorps Here She Comes

Posted by caaponte on October 10, 2017 in Reflection, Senior Year

Amidst the semester, it is so important to have a support group. While you’re finding your own path, it’s a beautiful thing to have someone working alongside you while they find theirs.

That being said – today my best friend is leaving for a year to work with AmeriCorps. She is older than I am and is ready to take the next step in helping others the best way she can. Her work to assist in emergency relief will bring smiles to many and her charisma will certainly lift a burden off of those who need it the most. To recognize how blessed you are and how much you have to give – is one of the most admirable qualities a person can have. And I call her my best friend.

Selfishly, I would love to have her here with me in Buffalo. But I know that I should look at the big picture. What is the big picture? People are placed strategically in our lives – at least that is what I believe – and she was here when I needed her and now its time for her to be there for others that need her.

Take a long, hard look at your friend circle. You pick out a social worker named Emily, a future Physical Trainer named Mardi, a future engineer named Zack, a future doctor named Shawn, and a future dentist in yourself. At some point we will all take a turn that we feel is best for our personal and professional development. It is the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever known. Our time here at UB has a time limit but the memories we have made here do not have to.

Moral of the story – Good luck Emily! Buffalo will miss you so much. We cannot wait to hear about the difference you have made.

Tuesday
09/26/17

The Future is Here

Posted by caaponte on September 26, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking

http://www.dentalcompare.com/Dental-Lab-Products/24990-Dental-Laboratory-CAD-CAM-Software/

 

How cool is it that you can bring a patient into the office and within 2 hours they can leave with their own customized crown? No need for the waiting period while the lab does their best to get the shading right for the patient.

What happens when the shading isn’t right? Back to the lab it goes and the patient has to use a temporary while they wait for the lab to make their best adjustments without even seeing them.

Those days are over! With CAD/CAM Software, dentists are able create customized crowns in a way similar to 3D Printers.

See the magic for yourself.