Peter Lahti is a first-year dental student with a passion for helping others.
Because of his scholarship, Peter will be able to fulfill his desire to work as a dentist in a rural or underserved area — caring for the region’s most vulnerable. We asked Peter about his passion for dentistry, the impact of scholarships and how he wants to change health care.
What drove you to pursue dentistry?
My parents didn’t go to college, but it was never a question to any of us that I was going to. They pushed me to succeed so I could have more opportunities than they had. They showed me what hard work was. Perhaps even more importantly than that, they showed me what it was like to have compassion. They are two of the most selfless people I know.
I pursued a career in dentistry because it makes me come alive — I have such a passion for helping others. As a dentist, I’ll be able to take away pain, boost confidence through smiles and build relationships with people for many years. I’ll get to use my brain to solve complex issues as well as my hands to physically make a difference.
What has receiving a scholarship meant to you?
I remember getting that email that I was a recipient of the SHOI scholarship at OHSU. It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I called my parents and grandparents in tears to share the good news. Not only would I not have to worry about the immense burden of student loans, but I would also get to stay close to my family.
How do you want to change the future of health care?
Upon graduation, I will be working in a rural or underserved area, which is something that I am very passionate about. I want to provide care to those people that are in need. I want to be somebody who is able to help people and make a positive impact on their lives, and this scholarship will help me do just that. For that, I will be forever grateful.