Words From Your Peers

SHPEP Student Feature - Predent Marlinda Haudley

Posted by Marlinda Haudley on January 16, 2018

Marlinda Haudley became inspired to enter dental care through her strong desire to give back to her Native American community. The combination of participating in the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) and meeting a woman dentist from the same Navajo reservation as her solidified this predent’s path to dentistry.

What lead to your interest in a health profession?

I was born and raised on a Navajo Reservation. When I left the reservation for college, my views of myself and the world I lived in changed. As a Native American, I recognized the need for better health care on the reservation, so I decided to begin my journey into dentistry as a predental student. There are many health disparities on the reservation that make living a healthy lifestyle a challenge, so I want to be a part of health care improvement through proper oral health and nutrition for my community. This realization from a Western perspective opened my eyes to a bigger picture of how I could give back and improve the lives of my people.

Who or what inspired you?

I was truly inspired to pursue a career in dentistry when I participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP, now named SHPEP) in 2013. After meeting Dr. Tamana Begay, a Navajo dentist and a member of the SHPEP National Alumni Advisory Board. She was the first Navajo dentist I had ever met. She helped me build confidence and demonstrated how I could be impactful in my community. By simply having the opportunity of meeting someone who was from the same reservation, who also recognized the same disparities and knew my challenges of trying to figure out how to be successful many miles from home was the boost of inspiration I needed.

What obstacles did you overcome in your educational journey?

When I left the reservation for college, I experienced culture shock and struggled to succeed. I was accustomed to life on the reservation, so I had to quickly make a few lifestyle changes.

Throughout my undergraduate education, I worked two to three jobs while going to school full time to afford my living expenses. Raised in a low-income, single-parent home, I promised myself that I would not give up and leave the city without a college degree. Leaving the reservation for college made me resilient in all aspects of my life. This includes mentally, educationally, spiritually and emotionally. I experienced almost everything a non-Native student would experience, but the biggest challenge I had to overcome was also adjusting to a new environment and learning style and being separated from home and everything I knew.

*Original article can be found on SHPEP.org.

About Marlinda Haudley:

Marlinda Haudley

Marlinda Haudley
Arizona State University in May 2017
Altru Health System, North Dakota


Ms. Marlinda Haudley was a 2013 Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) participant at the University of California Los Angeles program site. Ms. Haudley graduated from Arizona State University in May 2017. She is currently working at Altru Health System in North Dakota while studying for the GRE exam to apply to an M.P.H. program, with later plans to attend dental school.