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Big Small Things

Jasmine and Gobi discuss ‘big, small changes’ they are able to make to break the cycle of underrepresentation. Gobi describes what it is like to be raised by parents who immigrated from Cameroon in the 80s. Gobi describes her education in various PWIs as a test of ‘endurance not intelligence.’ She was able to endure, in part due to her strong familial foundation, her close relationship with God and her determination. However Gobi discusses the instrumental role mentorship played in her development. Gobi cites mentorship as the most powerful ‘big small change’ you can make in the life of a young Black student. In addition to pursing a career in dentistry, Gobi has pursued a Masters in Education which she hopes to use in tandem to her medical career so that she can continue to break the cycle for generations to come. Her platform, The Black Mentor Network aims to pair Black professionals in a wide range of fields with Black students with a wide range of interests in the hopes that having access to representation in these underrepresented fields (like dentistry where around 5% of dentists are Black) will give the confidence to young Black students to believe the future is theirs to design.

JASMINE [00:00:33] I can't see you yet. Do you see?

[00:00:40] Oh, you are.

[00:00:44] I'm sorry. My computer, it's like weird, like green.

[00:00:49] No, no problem.

[00:00:52] My lips are extra glossy.

[00:00:54] Nah they look good.

[00:00:57] I feel like I could.

GOBI [00:01:00] No, no, you look good. OK. How are you doing?

JASMINE [00:01:04] Good. Hows it going?

GOBI [00:01:07] I'm doing well. I just got to New York couple hours ago.

JASMINE [00:01:11] Oh, I thought you were here, like, last week or something.

GOBI [00:01:14] No. I would have told you if I was here, but no, I just got back today.

JASMINE [00:01:18] Welcome back. And I like that. Isn't a carpet behind you?

GOBI [00:01:25] Oh, no. It's like a tapestry thing.

JASMINE [00:01:28] Oh, okay. Cool. Yeah, that's what I meant. Yeah, I like it.

GOBI [00:01:34] Thank you. Oh.

JASMINE [00:01:36] Basically we're gonna be interviewing you. We're gonna pretend like we're not like friends. Ill be asking different questions in regards to our Break the Cycle project with KIRUNIVERSE. Questions about being underrepresented in all of that stuff. And it's a recorded session. So you'll see recording at the top. But we're just gonna, like, use the interview part. Not this part right now, but yeah, so welcome, guys. So I'm Jasmine. And this is Gobi. So why don't you introduce yourself and, you know, just tell everyone, you know, like your occupation and you know everything.

GOBI [00:02:28] Yes, of course. Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. My name is (Name). You can call me Gobi. My friends, call me Gobi. And I'm a recently graduated dental student. Well, I guess dentist from Columbia University. I graduated this past May and I'll be doing a general practice residency out of Harlem Hospital on 135th street.

JASMINE [00:02:57] Thats awesome. I know, like, you know, you just graduated college and dental school as well. Do you want to talk about, like, your upbringing and, you know, how you how you were led to that point of going to school and completing it?

GOBI [00:03:16] Yeah, for sure. So I was born and raised in the Boston area in Malden, Massachusetts, about five miles outside of Boston, and my family's Cameroonian, both my parents immigrated from me Cameroon in the eighties, and education was always stressed to us. We were always told about the importance of education. So I always knew that I was definitely going to college. I had no clue where though. I ended up going to Brandeis University, which is Walthom Massachusetts, just outside of Boston as well. And I graduated from there in 2016. I was a public health major there. And I loved my major. The specific major was called Health, Science, Society and Policy. And it was an interdisciplinary major. I got to learn not just about the sciences, but also about different aspects of public health. We were studying policy. We got to take different classes in the sociology department. You could have taken business classes, anthropology classes. And that's something that really drew me to the major itself, just having the opportunity to delve into different educational fields. And then I grew up always going to the same family dentist. And I wouldn't say that's what led me to dentistry, but I always had a very friendly relationship with him. He was somebody who was I'm pretty close to my family. And when I got to college, I knew that I wanted to study something, that was in a health field, but I wasn't exactly what type of care. I wasn't exactly sure what type of career I wanted, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be a physician, a dentist, a nurse, a pharmacist. All these jobs were going in my head. So when I got to Brandeis, I was a public health major. But I really know where to go with that. But because I was interested in exploring different fields and I thought about what I liked in just what could be interesting, I thought of my family dentist who I grew up going to and so because of that, I was able to reach out to him and say, oh, can I shadow in your practice? And he was like, of course. So I ended up going there during winter break, summer breaks just to see what he was doing every day in his dental practice and gain more experience from that. And then the summer after my freshman year at Brandeis, I did a program called the Summer Health Professions Education Program. It used to be called Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. But they changed the name because they found they expanded the mission to include more health professions. And this is a program for underrepresented minority students that I did at Columbia University. And there were students from all over the country and we were just at Columbia taking classes. We got to shadow in the clinics and just learn more about applying to dental school in medical school, especially as underrepresented students. And it was a worthwhile experience. And I was able to stay in contact with a couple of mentors who I met during the program. And because of that, that's pretty much how I ended up at Columbia University for dental school. And I was able to get a scholarship to go to dental school as well. So I would say the mentorship from that program and the connections I made, being able to  expand my social network in that way was really instrumental for me.

JASMINE [00:07:00] That's awesome. It sounds like you had a lot of like like you mentioned, mentorship and shadowing along the way. How important is that to you, especially being in a field like dentistry?

GOBI [00:07:14] Yeah, so the mentorship I was able to receive along the way was very instrumental to me. So I didn't meet Black dentists until I was 19 years old and that was at Columbia University when I did that program, The Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, or SCDP, it was called at the time. And I did that program, I was able to actually see other students of color who were interested in medicine, dentistry too, whereas at my own university there was only a handful of us. So it was really cool, just being an environment where I was suddenly in classes where everybody looked just like I looked. And we were also passionate and willing to learn. And the dentist who I mentioned, the first Black dentists I met, Dr. Dennis Mitchell, he ended up becoming a mentor to me throughout my time in college and when I was applying for a dental school, he was able to help edit my personal statement and just give me tips. And when I got accepted into Columbia, I wasn't sure how how I was going to afford it because I was accepted with a scholarship and he was able to kind of navigate that with me. And I was put on a wait list for a scholarship. And then I ended up finally getting a scholarship. And if I didn't know him, if I didn't know who to ask, I think things would have definitely turned out differently for me. So because of people like him and all the people I've met along the way, it's inspired me to want to get back in this profession. It's a profession where only about three percent of dentists are Black. And that's something that I would like to see changed. But honestly, I know my role in changing that might be a little bit limited just because of all the structural things that go into that. But I know that I can still make really big, small changes if that makes sense, like just being able to be a mentor towards other students of color who are interested in the field. And it's because of my experiences in mentorship, in teaching, which inspired me to start my own mentorship program called The Black Mentor Network. And just doing similar things, I realized that it was instrumental to me to have a Black mentor. So I figured there's people who are interested in a wide range of different fields, ranging from art and fashion to medicine, dentistry, engineering. There's such a wide range of things that people are interested in doing, especially Black students, where I feel like people would be more motivated and more determined to reach the goal of they saw the people who look like them in those fields. So that's something that I'm trying to slowly change.

JASMINE [00:10:16] That's that's like so beautiful. I was actually going to go into the Black Mentor Network and I wanted to, like, dove deeper into it and you kind of answered my question already about, like, how you started it and everything, you know, with only three percent of Black dentists. So, yeah, that's cool that you able to, like, expand not just from your own field, but from other fields as well. And some of our friends are featured on it. So that's that's really cool.  Do you want to explain, like, more about like what it is and like, you know, the steps you're seeing now to grow it?

GOBI [00:11:00] So I started Black Mentor Network officially at the end of February. But it's an idea that I've had in my head for quite some time. And I was talking to my sister about it because we both had similar sentiments were growing up, especially coming from an immigrant family, a Black immigrant family there was from Cameroon. It was very common for people to come to the US and pursue fields like nursing careers that are very like noble careers, hardworking careers. But you can also get educated in the field pretty quickly and you could make money pretty quickly as well. And I feel like that was the motivation for a lot of them to get into the field of nursing, which is, again, a beautiful career.  Besides that, we didn't really know other health professionals who were doing different things, so growing up, we were encouraged to be a nurse or be physician or likesome type of field like that. But you were really getting a wide range of different examples of things that you can be, when you grew up. It was one of those things where I think we felt like you could be this, this or this because--Like my parents, it I don't know if it was just they didn't really see other Black people doing those things, It's so similar to what we saw also. I mean, kind of just believe them like, oh. I guess these are the only options you have. If you want to be successful, you have to be a doctor, be a nurse. And that's pretty much it. Other than if you don't do that, then you can't have a successful career. But it wasn't until I got older and started realizing that wow, like you can do so many different things. And I started realizing this like in college. I feel like in high school I still had this mindset where it's like I have to do this or I'm not going to be successful. But when I got to college, I saw Black students like me doing in all different types of things. And then I would see them graduate because these were students that were older than me. And just seeing them pursue very interesting fields in like pursuing like PhDs in African-American history and going off to do Master's in Public Health and going off to dental school, going to just do anything they really felt passionate about. And I don't know if these students had mentors growing up. I know a lot of them probably didn't. But I just felt like, wow, imagine if more of these students had mentors or people who looked like them in the field who could guide them through, like any questions they had or any feelings of doubt that they had somebody who could just encourage them, somebody who they could look up to and follow and who would be willing to help them and give them advice to keep them on the right track. So I was just having more conversations with people about the vision I saw. So I always thought that this was going to be an organization that I would start like later down the line after I spent some time working or something like that. But then, I feel like towards the beginning, I was feeling a little bit down, there was a lot of things going on in my life that weren't going the right way. So I was just like, you know what? I'm just going to start this right now. It was a very chaotic period of my time, of my life. But I was just like, you know what? At this point, I really do not have anything to lose. So I'm just going to start this. And so I named it Black Mentor Network, and I started it on Instagram. And I wanted it to be a page where people could could log onto it like students especially, and just see other Black professionals, Black students who are just doing interesting things with their lives, like just doing just like pursuing unique careers, starting their own businesses. Students who majored in different things. And it's something I'm really striving for the page is just diversity, plain and simple. Just being able to showcase a wide range of professions, a wide range of hobbies to Black students. And especially I'm hoping that younger Black students, whether they're in like high school, even middle school, because I do know a handful of middle schoolers who are on Instagram. So, like, I want them to have a positive page and they can just go to and be like, oh, wow, look at these people doing cool things, being educated, like using their hobby to inspire others and stuff like that. So I really just wanted to be a page that was spreading positivity. So I started the page at the end of February and I decided that I wanted to have different series like every month on the page or every so often on the page. So the first series I did was a Mentoring Me series where where students at various time points in their lives were featured with a mentor who who helped them along their career path. And I thought that is like really cute. Just showing that, like, Black mentors do exist for those who are fortunate enough to have them. And I feel like that was a cool series to do first, because it was interesting just asking my friends like, oh, do you have a Black mentor who helped you in your field? I would love to feature you. And so many of them said no. Like, I actually don't have any Black mentor who who ever helped me. I know anybody in the field. So I was just like, wow, this is exactly why I'm doing this. It was just very ironic that this was a first series I chose to do and I was very intentional about it because I was just like, wow, this is really important. So I, I really do need people to see that Black mentors do exist and that they're necessary and that we need more of them. So that was really cool and I was excited to do that. And then I've also done a graduation series on the on the page. I've done a stories of resilience series on the page, spreading encouragement to two younger students who may need it. And right now, I'm doing an entrepreneurship series on the page just featuring people I know, people who I've connected with on LinkedIn or different avenues who have been able to launch successful businesses in a wide variety of fields. And the purpose of that series that I'm doing right now is that I'm hoping that it'll inspire anybody who's been thinking about starting a business in any field. So I'm really excited to see where a Black  Mentor Network goes in terms of the social media. There's a lot in store that I have planned, so I'm looking forward to getting that content out. And then aside from that, I was able to launch the website a couple weeks ago. And that's a really cool, too. I have a blog page where people can contribute different art or writing pretty much whatever is on their mind. And I'll be doing post on the blog as well. And then finally, on top of that, there is the actual mentoring aspect where if you go on the website, you can sign up to be a mentor for younger Black student who's interested in your field. And you can also sign up to be a mentee if you are a younger student who's still in school and you need guidance in any field. I'd love to have you sign up and be a mentor through the Black Mentor Network.

JASMINE [00:19:01] So, like, how do you, like, connect the people that are signing up to the people that they're seeking? As far as like mentee or mentorship?

GOBI [00:19:12] Yeah. Good question. So right now, I've focused more on recruiting mentors because I wanted to make sure I had enough mentors before mentees started signing up, being like, oh, I need help and I have anybody to help them. So that's been line focus of my recruitment right now. But I have had a couple of sign ups for mentees, too. So a couple of students have signed up saying that they want to be mentored, for example, in the fields of public health and in the field of medicine. So in those fields, I do have a handful of people who I know who can help out people who sign up. But until we get more mentors to sign up in other fields (to audience) sign up to be a mentor. And the way I match mentor mentor with mentees primarily is by field of interest. When you fill out the application, which is a Google form, you select the field that you're interested in from a dropdown list and the field through the mentors and the mentees on the forms look almost identical, plus minus a few questions. So I keep track of the of the mentor is that I have in different fields. And when a mentee signs up saying that they're interested in pursuing a certain field, I'll look a little bit more into the aspects of that specific field that they're interested in. After I receive an application, I might send a follow up email like, oh, you said you're interested in Public Health. What specific avenue of public health are you interested in? Or if I see that this student went to this school trying to match them with a student who also graduated from that school or school in the area. So, yes, I would say it's primarily the matches made off of field of interest because at some point of the program. But then if I have a wider selection of different people to choose from, I'll start narrowing down between commonalities such as location and stuff like that. The thing about the Black Mentor Network that I really wanted to do is that I wanted it to be very digital, very easy to navigate. So it's like already it's I I'm trying to avoid any type of paper resources. I hate paper. I hate wasting paper. So everything is going to be online. I don't want to have to deal with any paper. And then on top of that, I wanted to make it really simple for people where it's like if you sign up to be part of the program, it's it's just going to be whenever you if you're a mentee, whenever you have a question about like internships or or applying for grad school or whatever phase of your education you might be in, you can just shoot your mentoring email, ask your opinion on different things. So it's a pretty low time commitment for the mentor and the mentee is just one of those things where it's like, OK, if you're interested in this field, if you have any questions that there's somebody who's willing to help you. So it's not something that these pairs are like meeting up in any way. It's not anything as complicated as that is, just if you have any question, you could feel free to call that person or email that person. However you choose your relationship to be at them on social media if that's your thing. Yeah. So it's really up to the mentor and mentee to really set the guidelines for what they expect out of the relationship. And I'm kind of the middleman who they can go to if they have any problems in their paring and such as that, people not responding back or any issues that come up. I can help to navigate that later on when I'm able to get more funding. And when the world opens up fully again, I would love to do like an in-person event Black Mentor Network event or something like that. Like some like New York City based event. But we'll see. I have a lot of different ideas in store. So whatever God really sees is the best me. That's his path I'm going to pursue.

JASMINE [00:23:36] That's amazing. You're like the plug.

GOBI [00:23:39] Basically, I'm trying to be.

JASMINE [00:23:43] It's almost like a dating app too.

GOBI [00:23:48] Yeah. The professional educational dating app. Yes.

JASMINE [00:23:53] That's really cool. And I think that it's something that is not heard of. At least, when I was going to school, I didn't hear about any of those things, opportunities. And I've never had a mentor. You know, in some of my fashion classes, there were there was a seamstress that would ike kind of like help us out, you know, with little like things. But I never had, like, that one on one mentorship. And I still want a mentor like I think that would be awesome. So I'll definitely check on your website. And yeah, we'll be able to mentor people, too. So, yeah, I'll hit you up.

GOBI [00:24:35] Thank you. Thank you.

JASMINE [00:24:37] So, OK. So I guess going back to like school and you know, all that you've accomplished. Like what were some of the situations that you faced that you knew was like a cycle that you had to break. If that makes sense.

GOBI [00:25:00] So I would say it definitely starts when you're young. So I went to a charter school growing up as a very small school, and I think you're starting from as early as you can remember. You start being grouped based off of your intellectual ability or like your reading ability, your math ability, your your group of people who are who are pretty much at the same spot where you are, you know, so that you guys can kind of learn and grow together and in it. And I realized that starting in the middle school, I started being grouped pretty much with the white students because I was pretty much above average in terms of my my academic performance. So I was grouped with with majority white students. My school was already majority white, but there were a handful of Black students in none. And most of them are not in my classes. I remember in my classes they would probably be one or two other Black students beside myself. And that continued until high school, where it's like, again, I was in classes where there would be I most one or two other Black students in the class. And then I graduate from high school and gone to Brandeis University and it's pretty much the same thing in another predominantly white institution. In all, the Black students know each other and we're all friends. And again, in the science classes, it's a select group of students where it's like we're all friends, we all know each other because they're the same students in every class. And then as you proceed-- first of all, from the first message, when you're taking general chemistry, you start off and there's a handful of Black students and then this message progresses is less and less like Black students because people drop. And as you progressed about the year, that's the same thing. People who say that they're interested in medical school or dental school end up deciding that it's not for them either because they lose interest or even more commonly, they decide that it's it's too difficult or it's too stressful, which it is that it was unnecessarily difficult and unnecessarily stressful. They make it like that to weed people out to discourage people. All throughout college I had to remind myself that this is a test of endurance, not of intelligence, because it really felt like that. It was just like, how much can you take? Like, what is it going to take to break you and. It's almost like they wanted to see that, oh, like this person can't take it, they're not cut out for it, then they're out. There were just so many flaws in the system and it was just an internal battle. Throughout college, I remember having periods of depression, super high anxiety. And that never really left after graduating college.  I graduated in 2016 and I went straight to dental school after that and dental school it was the same thing. I graduated with four other Black students in my class of 90 students. But the year below my year, I had three black students at the year below that had two Black students. In the year below I'd had about two or three, too. So it's just like less and less. And I was like, what is going on? So it was definitely difficult. I'm having this feeling of isolation, feeling like you're in this battle by yourself and like watching your close friends who were in it with you in the beginning, just like drop off and say that they don't want to do it anymore just because they wanted to protect their mental health and or they're just like, this isn't worth it.  And I even had my feelings of feeling this isn't worth it either. Why am I doing this? Again, I keep telling myself this is a battle of endurance. Intelligence is one thing. And yes, it's helpful, but it's and you need to be able to endure. And there's a lot of flaws in the academic industrial complex, especially when it comes to the education of Black students and students of color. That's a whole other topic I can get into. But I feel like it starts young and it doesn't stop. Like the kind of like the feelings of being isolated. It doesn't stop and continue throughout down school. But the thing that I was really able to cling to, like I mentioned one, was mentorship.Doing programs like the Summer Medical and Dental Education program and trying to be involved in that way, being involved in extracurricular activities that kind of serve my passions more. And I feel like my involvement in extracurricular activities got me through my undergraduate experience at Brandeis. And it also got me through dental school as well, where it's like it's definitely not good to be too involved in things because it was just stress you out even more. But I felt like it was nice having a creative outlet or just being able to do something fun and creative, something that was just for me that was that's that kind of defined who I was outside of my academic and intellectual ability. So that was always really good for me and for me one of my my passion was teaching. And that's something that ended up being a creative outlet for me, being able to talk to different students, being able to mentor younger Black students and just keep that going. And that's what encouraged me to also get my Master's in Education while in dental school, too. So when I was doing my master's program, again, my focus in that program was still education for Black students and students of color. So that's always been a passion for me. So I tried to make a lot of the things I do connect to that because it just makes school easy. If you're learning about what you want to be learning about. So, yes.

JASMINE [00:31:32] And yet it seems like, you know, you overcame those cycles, you know, that you've experienced and like, you know, you're doing that through teaching and mentorship and, you know, with your new job coming up as well. Do you want to go a little bit more into that?

GOBI [00:31:49] Yeah. So my first day of orientation for my job is tomorrow. And yeah. So I'm excited about that. I'll be working in Harlem Hospital. I don't know too much about Harlem Hospital, but something that really drew me to wanting to go to this program specifically was that I just loved the Harlem neighborhood and I spent so much time there because of my church and I knew people from that. I was always going out to eat in the neighborhood. So I'm really excited to actually delve deeper into the neighborhood, see more of the local residents like who will be my patients. I'm excited for that. And just I'm getting a better understanding of what is Harlem and like what are some of the issues that people face here? What are some of the health problems that they face? What are some of the dental problems that they have? What are they thinking about on a daily basis? I mean, I'm excited to build those connections and I'm so excited to be working at a hospital in the city, which is already so diverse, but especially the Harlem community. That means so much to me. I'm excited to take my relationship there to a deeper level and just really get to build connections there. I think it'll be really special because like I was saying, New York City is already so diverse. But a community like Harlem, I feel like I feel you can't beat it. It's like there's so much diversity, so, so many different people there. And I feel like that's what I'm most excited about, to be challenged there to to see people from different walks of life and to hone in on my skills just because I just graduated. I know a little bit and I need to learn a lot. So I'm really excited to start in Harlem. I think it's going to be really special.

JASMINE [00:33:44] Yes. And I'm like, right, probably down the street from it to. Like, its a good walk, you guys take, like, the (insurance name). I know I ask you this all the time.

GOBI [00:33:57] I have no clue. But hopefully in the next coming weeks, months, I really get started. I'll have a better idea of what kind of insurances take. I do not know. I really do not know. They take only Medicaid if they take Medicaid and self pay or difference insurances.  But I will get back to you.

JASMINE [00:34:15] Yes. So it's good. You know, you're going to be making like new connections. And, you know, I'm sure you'll spread the word about your network as well. Yeah. The people there. Will there be people like a like I guess like in college or like in a residency there?

GOBI [00:34:39] Yeah, that's a really good question. So when I'm at Harlem Hospital, it'll be part of a one year residency program. So this is a residency program for a general dentistry to just gain more skills in addition to dentistry. So these residencies are required to be able to practice in New York State. And I'll be part of a cohort with nine. Well, it'll be nine total, including me. I'll be part of a cohort with eight other residents who have also recently graduated from dental school. And we'll all be starting together and learning together. And it's a paid program. So you get a salary and you're considered an employee of New York City Health and Hospitals. But the cool thing about it is that you're still receiving training. So you're not technically a student, but you're kind of like a paid intern in a way.

JASMINE [00:35:36] That's cool, though, like you'll have that opportunity like tomorrow. Well, what was I going to ask. So, yeah. You mentioned, like mentorship.You mentioned, teaching, you mentioned, you know, working alongside other people in your field. Like how will you fuse education-- I know you mentioned that before, but just, you know, for the audience, like, how will you fuse it into your future endeavors?

GOBI [00:36:11] Yeah, that's an awesome question. So for me right now, I'm thinking in terms of dentistry, I want to go into private practice, which means I'm just working in a dental offic, at least short term or maybe opening my own practice on the line. But I don't really know about that. It's not really something I've seen a passion for yet. But again, only God knows the plans that lie ahead. And in terms of education, my degree in education was one of the motivations for me to start the Black Mentor Network, too. So I feel like in terms of using education in my future career, it's going to be working on those types of organizations on the side. So I really want to focus on building the Black Mentor Network platform, if I can, just because it's something that I hope that I want to keep doing on my own time, but also figuring out ways to expand its mission, whether it's partnering with other organizations or if I ever get involved with any dental school or college or you or university, I'm seeing how they can benefit from that platform. How can it be expanded to benefit more people? So just really focusing on that type of mentorship for Black students is something that I'm really passionate about. So just continuing the mission of black Mentor Network. I don't know if it's going to stay as Black Mentor Network,  maybe it will grow to something bigger and the name will change, or maybe it will combine to something else and the name will change. But it's still my baby that I care a lot about and that I'm just excited to see where it goes is because I have this passion of helping Black students in just wherever it goes. That's where I want to be.

JASMINE [00:38:00] So that's awesome. I feel that, you know, with the Black Mentor Network, you're breaking cycles already, especially with the need of having mentors, you know, across different disciplines. Like I said, I didn't and I still don't so. So I think you're definitely breaking the cycle there with just your own, you know, passion, your own business program.

GOBI [00:38:32] Yeah. And I feel like that's what's so important. Where it's like you're not alone in this story that you didn't have a mentor growing up, but so many people felt that same way. And it's so unfortunate. But just thinking like you have an avenue now to mentor a student and to be that person who you never had. How cool is that where it's like somebody is interested in fashion or going to a similar type of school that you went to, like while you could be that person and kind of encourage them at night and tell them what to do or not to do? They don't leave like this sewing assignment at the last minute because it'll be terrible or whatever. So I just think it's so cool where like we can really be the people who break the chain. The people who break the cycle, like you say, like me, can be the ones who make the difference, even if we didn't have it for ourselves. It doesn't have to. It doesn't have to continue. And we can really rewrite the story for a younger student. And that's so special and important.

JASMINE [00:39:30] And especially this day and age where we're still experiencing like, you know, racism and oppression. You know, I definitely think it's like this is like so relevant to us. Yeah.

GOBI [00:39:45] It's definitely been very, very rough  few weeks, if not year. And as difficult as it has been to carry forward, it just emphasizes how important this type of work is and how we have to carry through. I can't lie and say it hasn't affected me. There were days in the last few weeks where it was very difficult to even log onto my Instagram account. I had to delete the app for a little bit and then re downloaded and then delete it again.But it's such important and work and so crucial that that Black professional and black students are seen and heard and that we're not going anywhere and that we're going to keep sharing resources, sharing our knowledge. We're going to keep being the change makers that we want to be. And I think the most important thing is that no matter how hard it gets or how difficult, no matter how stressful against like we are going to keep going and always going to bounce back from any obstacle that comes our way. So I feel like that's the thing that's gonna keep me going. Just knowing that there's nothing that can really happen to us to silence us or anything, like we will continue speaking out and just making changes.

JASMINE [00:41:13] Yes, definitely. And I know you mentioned, like, you know, deleting the app for a bit. Like, for me, like, I would definitely say that mental health played a big factor. And so I had to like, you know, log off as well. And just like, you know, I have a mental health day, don't answer any e-mails just kind of like, you know, reflect on the recent events and just, you know, pray and just jot down lots of things. And so with that being said, like, you know, I know you're in like the hygene field and like, I don't even know if I said that correctly. But like hygiene and health, like like taking care of yourself these days.

GOBI [00:41:57] Yeah, so like I said, unplugging from social media can be really helpful. Not being afraid to step back, step away. It doesn't have to be permanent. I feel like that's the thing that kind of makes people kind of resistant to doing that. They're like oh, god,  like I feel like I can't separate. It's I guess you definitely can. Like, don't be afraid to separate where you're not stepping away for good. You just have to step away for a little bit. And that's been really helpful for me. Making sure I take time to just sit and reflect. I've always loved playing music, especially like worship, music, anything that helped push me through, especially-- that's what got me through dental school, sometimes just listening to worship music before going to bed. But I feel like it with everything that's been going on, something that it's also been important for me is just sitting in silence. You don't need any music playing or like a screen in front of you, but just really being able to hear your own thoughts and maybe like hearing God speaking to you or just being able to be at peace with your own being. I feel like that's been really important to me.

JASMINE [00:43:23] Yeah, I definitely agree. Worship music, just anything. And like sitting with yourself to taking that time to reflect and just be there. Be present. Yeah. I ask that because, you know, you know, although it's kind of like not related to breaking the cycle. It kind of is like, you know, everything, the situation, the climate, whatever you call it, of the world right now where you basically have two pandemics related to mental health. Another one, I guess, physical and mental and such as like, you know, taking that time. And I think it's important to ask everyone to check in on everyone, like how they're doing and what they're doing to cope with everything.

GOBI [00:44:17] Yeah, it is so funny how things come together, too, because like I said, with Black Mentor Network, I've been featuring different people and paid in with the entrepreneurship series I'm doing right now. I actually got in contact with with a young professional who's starting a mental health app which I was able to promote on the page a couple days ago, he made a really cool video. So if you haven't seen it, check it out. Yeah. So I was just like, wow, how fitting is it? The video was actually a very touching.  I don't know if you watched it, but it was really good. So he so yeah, he's a Black student who is working on launching a mental health app pretty soon. And so it was interesting talking about what his inspiration for starting that was. And yeah, I feel like as Black students, like professionals, we really have so many options available to us in terms of just being into the career path, but also be innovative. I was like just thinking on how needed mental health is. And then it's like there's this young student trying to create his own mental health app. And just really cool thinking, not because I'll be doing a series on mental health this August, actually on the page.

JASMINE [00:45:42]  August is wellness month!

GOBI [00:45:46] Oh I, I actually even know as well as well. I just wanted to do something for back to school because I know it always stresses people out.

JASMINE [00:45:53] But you, I mean it's a mental health month was May. Right.

GOBI [00:45:59] Exactly. I think it is. But yeah.

JASMINE [00:46:02] Well, I still think it relates to like, wellness, too. Yeah. Yeah. But you have definitely back to school.

GOBI [00:46:12] Yes. So I'm excited to find more resources for myself that black professionals can do that also be able to share those resources. And if there's anything that black students can use to help increase their mental health as all, I'll be talking to a few people. So I'm very excited for that series. And I've already been working on it for a little bit. So.

JASMINE [00:46:40] I just kind of like, I guess one. Well, maybe two final questions. Just to wrap up a little bit. But, you know, you've answered everything so well, and I feel like you're doing everything, like you're like a one woman show. But, yeah, for the for the first question, I guess, you know, besides mentorship. You know, like how, I guess, how important would you say it is, people like in your corner, just having friends or family, you know? Lovers, like how is it? How important is it to have those people in your corner? How did they help push you forward?

GOBI [00:47:33] Yeah, for sure, I feel like my family was so instrumental in my success in terms of my mom. She's a single mom, but always encouraging me to pursue my passion when I chose to pursue the field of dentistry, which she didn't really know that any dentist besides my family dentist. She was just like, oh, yeah. That's cool. Go for it. Like, it's always been like that support system. And same goes for the rest of my family, too. Like always just cheering me on, hoping for and praying for the best for me. My mom, my mom and my grandmother-- I feel like their biggest form of love is just in the form of food and throughout college and dental school,  that's always been so helpful and it's been such a blessing. Like whenever I go home, I would always come back to school with tons of food. Same thing with dental school. Whenever I would come home from winter break, where I would come back from spring break or whatever, I would always have like a suitcase that would just be full of food. I would put most of it in the freezer and I would have food for like literally half the semester.

JASMINE [00:48:49] Yeah. like carepackages.

GOBI [00:48:50] Like the OG care packages. One time my mom even mailed food from Boston to New York. Come on. That's true love. That is. And yeah, just being amazing. Just because I felt. I feel like. Cooking, even though can be very therapeutic when you're in a field that is as demanding as the health care professions. Unfortunately, you really don't have a lot of time for that. It's literally just for the first two years of dental school it was studying from pretty much morning to night. I always tell my friends that I liked the weekdays more than the weekends during the first two years of dental school, because during the week at least like you would have classes to go to and stuff. But when it was the weekend, I would just study from eight or nine in the morning when I woke up to about ten or midnight when I went to bed. I would do Saturday and then I would do that on Sunday too. And it was just miserable. And it's like having a life like that isn't healthy. But like the professional school culture, kind of glamorized like, oh, like this is what you need to do to be successful, you know. So that's how things work for me for the first couple years of dental school. I was absolutely miserable for the majority of the time and sometime in the in the second semester of my second year of dental school, I ended up getting pretty depressed just because of how things were going academically. And it was a pretty deep depression. I had been going to therapy before that and like things with therapy didn't work out. And it was a mess when I started going to Trinity Church. And that was really special to me because, again, I didn't really have friends in New York. Prior to that, because I was just studying all the time. Like, my only friends were my classmates and they weren't really that friendly. They were just in school with me. And so it was really difficult. But then when I started going to Trinity and just meeting people and they just having like like a break and like being like, wow I am a normal person I can make talk and socialize with people and I can make friends. That was something really special to me. And then going to Trinity is actually something that brought me out of depression. And I feel like Trinity has been able to be a support system for me just by giving me encouragement and giving me friends who could always encourage me. And it just helped me remember that I'm an actual person, that my life is meaningful and that I'm more than just school. Like, I would love going out with friends and nobody would even ask me about an assignment or anything that's going on because they just see me as a person and not as a student, you know? And that's something whereas like being in the dental environment, obviously, everything is mostly focused on dentistry, which isn't really bad, but it's a you can easily forget who you are. So I would say my family and of course, God, were the number one support system to me as well as my church. And then as of recently, my boyfriend as well, who also goes to Trinity Church, well now, because of me, since we've met. And he's also been very instrumental for my success and always motivating me. And I think it's just been our faith in God that's really push us and really helped our relationship grow. I feel like it's been very special. I'm getting to know know him every day and grow with him and grow in our faith. And it's beautiful.

JASMINE [00:53:15] So it definitely sounds like, you know, all of the relationships in your lives, your life has helped push you in some way forward.

GOBI [00:53:22] For sure. For sure.

JASMINE [00:53:28] Definitely need the community and I know that Trinity pushes that, too.

GOBI [00:53:31] Yeah. Mm hmm.

JASMINE [00:53:34] So my last question before we hang up. So just like in a few words or less, what advice would you give to someone who was once in your shoes or who are in your shoes right now who are trying to like break the cycle in their own lives or who are, you know, just going through a tough time?

GOBI [00:53:55] The simplest advice I could give is don't be afraid to ask for help. Number one, seek out mentors. Don't be afraid to ask questions. So that you can avoid making mistakes that are avoidable. And the last one would be just don't be afraid to do something different. If you don't know anybody who's done something or written about something like, do your research and try to find somebody who's done it and maybe you are the first one to go for it. Don't be afraid to be the only one doing something. Don't be afraid to do something different. Stay true to yourself and just rely on God, because that's what helped me out. I'll give that advice, rely on God and trust that He has a plan for your life because He does. And I feel like that's what motivated me because. I feel with me talking, you kind of get a false impression that everything I did went my way and that couldn't be further from the truth. I failed at a lot of things. Recently, things didn't go my way.But that does not mean that it didn't go God's way, it went God's way and not my way. So always trust that there is a bigger purpose for your life. And, yeah, just keep moving forward from there. The only way you can go forward.

JASMINE [00:55:38] Yes. What you just said reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs three, five, six... But that's awesome. I couldn't agree more. And I just love you, and thank you for doing this interview, taking your time to answer all of these questions. And I hope that this motivates someone and encourages someone the same way that it did to me. And then it continues to do to me and our friendship.

GOBI [00:56:11] Thank you so, so, so much.

[00:56:13] Thank you. Yes.

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