BVU experience brings a smile to future dental school student

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Senior Jorge Ceballos, of Carroll, was born in Cuba, lived in Carroll, and will graduate from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake in May. The biomedical sciences major aims to become a dentist one day.
/Photo submitted

A wide smile crosses Jorge Ceballos’ face as he discloses his dream job.

“Dentist,” he says, eyes glimmering. “I want to be a dentist.”

How will he get there? Ceballos, a Buena Vista University senior, will one day open his dental practice after making connections in Cuba, Carroll, Storm Lake, and, most recently, Argentina, where he served as an intern for Enjoy Dental, one of 179 internships completed by BVU students in the 2018-19 academic year.

“I shadowed a dentist in Buenos Aires, the capital city,” says Ceballos, who is fluent in Spanish and English. “As the dentist worked, I would separate buccal tissue, do suction, and help with infection control. I learned about another culture and realized how experiences like that can help me in my practice someday.”

His adventure was also historic for BVU in one way as it marked the first internship served by a Beaver in Argentina.

How Ceballos arrived at this point is remarkable. He and his younger brother, Victor, came to the U.S. in the winter of 2016. Their parents, Jorge Ceballos and Yuselys Chavez, had secured work contracts that would allow them to travel from Cuba to Mexico nearly one decade ago. When the contract allowed for a change from Mexico to the U.S., Jorge and Yuselys made the switch.

Ultimately, they landed in Carroll.

“My parents lived and worked in Carroll for three years, establishing themselves to allow for my brother and I to come and have a better transition into life in the U.S.,” the younger Jorge says. For those three years, Jorge and Victor lived with their grandparents at Pinar del Rio, outside Havana, Cuba.

“In Cuba, the economics are such so that a family only has one car,” Jorge says. “There are limits on what you can earn or possess. And the economy was getting worse. My parents sought a better life for their family.”

They found it in Carroll, where Jorge Ceballos established his own home-remodeling firm. Jorge helps his dad during holiday breaks and summer vacation.

“My mom works for Pella Windows in Carroll,” Jorge says. “She was a nurse in Cuba and she’s going back to school to become a nurse here. She’s also learning English.”

Jorge graduated from Carroll High School in 2016 and fit two years of classes at Des Moines Area Community College into 18 months, taking 21 class credits per term.

In the fall of 2018, he came to BVU, excited about BVU’s proximity to Carroll; its faculty, abundant financial aid offerings, and the fact it’s the only university in Iowa to offer undergraduates a major in biomedical sciences.

“Coming to BVU provided me with a direct path to dental school,” he says. “And with the class sizes, you get to know the professors, who are very friendly. You get to ask questions at any time. I love that part of the education here.”

Jorge works part-time as a Spanish tutor at the Center for Academic Excellence in Siebens Forum. That is, when he’s not studying anatomy, organic chemistry, physics, or preparing for his clinical research class. He is a constant presence at the state-of-the-art Estelle Siebens Science Center on campus.

“Jorge is a great student, very enthusiastic and driven to succeed,” says Dr. Thomas Bonagura, associate professor of biology and dean of BVU’s School of Science. “When you talk to Jorge, you can almost feel the intensity of his passion and vision to be successful. I easily can see him becoming a dentist and helping others.”

Jorge allows a smile as he considers his future. “At the end of this year, I’ll apply to dental school,” he says. “I’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and so have my parents. We’ll be very proud when the day comes that I make it into dental school.”