UMDNJ Brainiac: Delina Parkhurst
words by Merry Sue Baum / photograph by Andrew Hanenberg
elina Parkhurst, MS, took a work/study job in high school for one simple reason: It was a way to get out of school early every day. What the Bethlehem, PA, resident could not have guessed, however, was that the program would take her life in a whole new direction.
The senior dental student readily admits that at 16 she was far from a good student and school was not “her thing.” When a friend told her about the program, she immediately enrolled and was given a job as a dental assistant. Parkhurst had no idea what the job would entail. Nevertheless, she took the position and after a few months realized she was truly enjoying it. The following summer she worked in a periodontal office, where she had the opportunity to assist with surgery. “I found it fascinating, I loved it,” she says. “That’s when I knew I wanted to continue working in the dental field.” She earned an A.A. in dental hygiene and went to work in a general practice. “I learned every single job in the office, but I still wanted to do more,” she says. “The only way to do that was to become a dentist.”
Parkhurst knew it would take hard work, but she was up to the challenge. She earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Thomas Edison University/SHRP, with a 4.0 GPA, and applied to NJDS, but did not make the cut. “Because of some of my past academic mistakes, the admissions committee wasn’t convinced I could do the work,” she says. They advised her to get a master’s degree in science and reapply. She earned an MS in Biomedical Science from GSBS, with a 3.95 GPA, in one year. She soon became a member of the Class of 2011 at NJDS. She received numerous scholarships, including the Champions Endowed Scholarship and the Abdol H. Islami, MD, Foundation Scholarship, which she says were a tremendous help.
Ranked number three in her class, Parkhurst was a top student and a leader on campus and in the dental community. No matter what barriers she faced, she never gave up her dream. “I’m about to graduate with honors,” she says. “I’m proof that with enough hard work and determination, a person can accomplish almost anything.” .