Hello, Renrenspeakers! Happy Saturday and third week of Black History Month! How have you been honoring Black people so far this month? I hope one of the numerous ways has been through reading these blog posts that I have for yall! Today I have an incredible person on the blog who I admire so much. Cambria is up next in the Black is Beautiful mini blog series! Before we launch her interview, I am gonna take us back to memory lane and briefly highlight our connection!
Like everyone on the mini blog series thus far, I met Cambria at UC San Diego (college was an opportune time to make connections, I am telling ya!). I was always drawn to Cambria’s kind, sweet, and chill spirit. We were in organizations together such as the Black Student Union and had other mutual leadership roles in Black spaces in college. I remember when she switched over to my major, Human Development, our bond started to grow. We took the same Human Development classes together and got to know each other on a deeper level. It was so refreshing to see another Black face in my classes. Cambria was always a great hype woman and support system, encouraging and affirming me when school got challenging. She really shines as a light in all of her endeavors and radiates such positive, infectious energy. She is also SUCH a hard worker, yall. I am telling ya, she is a go-getter for real. With that being said, I hope that you all get to see her light exude as we delve right into her story!
Irene: What is your name/pronouns?
Cambria: Cambria Anderson, she/hers
Irene: Give us a quick synopsis of who YOU ARE!
Cambria: I’m from Victorville, CA and currently living in Washington, D.C. attending Howard University College of Dentistry. I went to UC San Diego and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Developmental Sciences and a minor in African American Studies. I’m currently in my second year of school at Howard and my goals are to become a cosmetic dentist and open a clinic where dental care is offered with access and affordability in mind, and to create mentorship and career opportunities for Black dental students in the SoCal area.
When I’m not in class, simulation lab, or neck deep in lecture notes, I like to watch movies, read, get active, get creative with a decor project for my apartment, or try something new in the DMV area. My “why not, might as welllll” attitude about going outside gets me in trouble with my friends all the time lol, but there are so many community events, markets, film screenings, mixers, day parties, etc that I’ll take every opportunity to experience when I get it. I also have a DC bucket list that I’m trying to work through before I graduate in 2025 – so far I’ve seen all the monuments and the museums are up next!
Irene: Choose three words that come to mind when you define “Blackness”. Define each word in its relation to Blackness. Why did you choose these three words?
Beauty: Across the diaspora, there’s so much beauty in our various cultures, languages, histories, styles, etc. There’s so much to appreciate about the Black experience globally and what we have been able to retain and create in the face of oppression and anti-Blackness and its best attempts to strip us of that.
Creativity: I feel like this is self explanatory, the way our minds work is just…wow lol. We are literally so dope at everything we do!
Pride: My last word is an affirmation from the movie Cool Runnings that came to mind. When I think of Blackness, I see pride, I see power, and I see bad*ss mothers who don’t take no crap off of nobody.
Irene: What is the MOST beautiful thing about being Black to you?
Cambria: That it’s something that you have to experience to really know. Our style, how we create community anywhere and everywhere, the way we talk, inside jokes, our expressions and figures of speech, even the way we can communicate with each other without saying a single word. It’s a gift to be Black to be honest, and even though so many try to imitate it, it can never be duplicated – we’re the blueprint for real!
Irene: How has your experience been as a Black person in your respective field thus far?
Cambria: Going to Howard for dental school has had a positive impact on my start in the field. Learning from Black faculty and being surrounded by Black peers is empowering and creates a supportive environment, and it is so motivating to see rooms filled with people who look like you opposed to my undergrad environment where I was often one of the only Black students in the room. Black dentists make up about 3-4% of all dentists in the U.S., so I am really soaking up every moment here at Howard before I start to work in the field because it won’t always be like this. Also, my classmates and I are starting to see patients this summer, and I am excited to understand more of what it means to care for my community. From what I’ve experienced, patients place a lot of gratitude and trust in us and that adds so much meaning to what I am able to do for them.
Irene: How do you plan on showing up for the people as a Black person in your respective field?
Cambria: In college I volunteered in the UCSD PDS free dental clinics, and we served the elderly, children, and those who were homeless, uninsured, and veterans. As a result, the majority of our patients who represented these groups were Black. I credit this as the moment that shaped my goals and gave me a vision for the kind of dentist I want to be. My priority is to address disparities in oral health and create access among marginalized communities by opening a community clinic like those I served in, leading community workshops that educate on preventative oral health practices and destigmatize dentistry as painful and anxiety-inducing, and creating a network with other professionals both within and outside of the healthcare field to refer out patients for other necessary services to address overall health as part of a holistic process. I also want to form partnerships with Black dental student organizations at UCLA, USC, Western University, and Loma Linda University to offer mentorship and clinical experience through service in my clinic. My hope is to create a community for dental students like the one I’ve been able to experience through my time at Howard because it’s been key in my learning and growth thus far, and because I remember what it’s like to find comfort and a sense of relief in seeing another Black person in a mostly non-Black space.
Irene: Any advice, gems, or words of encouragement for future Black people who want to pursue your field?
Cambria: Never lose sight of your ultimate goal because despite the obstacles and detours, not following the traditional track, or not having the strongest GPA or DAT scores, what’s for you is for you and you will become the dentist you dream of being! Make sure to seek out mentorship from dentists in the field who will allow you to shadow and gain experience under them, and keep in contact with them because their wisdom is invaluable. Finally, find and remember your why. This is a difficult career to pursue and in those moments where you feel discouraged, tired, or unmotivated (and you will, unfortunately) you have to be able to go back to your sole reason for doing this and remind yourself of the big picture. Remember that these moments do not define your potential or the trajectory of your career, and that you’re destined for all the greatness that you dream for yourself. Nothing or no one can take that away!
Irene: What is one of your favorite songs that fit/exemplifies that Black is Beautiful?
Cambria: Golden by Jill Scott is probably one of my favorite feel good songs that just reminds me to walk in my power as a Black woman, and of course Brown Skin Girl by Beyoncé.
Irene: How can we support a fellow amazing Black person like yourself? Do you have any projects, businesses, creations, etc. that you are working on that you would like to speak briefly about and/or that we can support?
Cambria: Unrelated to my career goals, I have a podcast with my friends called Four Deep and we just dropped our first episode on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube! We are four young Black women in their 20 somethings who aren’t afraid to get deep with it as we discuss life, relationships, careers, and personal development. You can follow us on Instagram, @fourdeeppod.
Irene: Can folks connect with you to learn more about you/support you? If so, please drop your social media info down below!
Cambria: Feel free to follow me on Instagram, @flygalcam or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com!
First of all, SUPPORT CAM ON HER PODCAST! I am a podcast junkie, so to see my friend have her own podcast sharing gems and fly girl content is just the icing on the cake. I give her props for balancing a quality podcast while attending dental school full time. It is not an easy thing to do, but of course, if anyone can do it, it is Cambria. Also, it sounds like Cambria literally has the most optimal occupational balance as a dental student. What I’m hearing is that she is the girl to hit up when in D.C. because she has all the plugs! I am also just literally so proud to see the journey that she’s taken to get to dental school because as we have witnessed thus far through the blog posts I’ve been sharing or just through other Black people’s accounts, it is not easy to be Black pursuing a health care profession. The fact that we make up no more than 5% of each respective field is so problematic, so to see people like Cambria actively shifting those statistics is so empowering.
Thank you all so much for tuning into the blog! I really hope that yall enjoyed Cambria’s interview as much as I did. It gave me a kick of inspiration and motivation to continue along my own journey as an occupational therapy student. Part 4, and unfortunately, the last post for my Black is Beautiful mini blog series is live next Saturday, so please remember to be on the lookout! Again, subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram at Renrenspeaks for updates! Continue to love on Black people!
Peace and love,