Activities on campus and at the college are as diverse as the student population itself. You’ll find dental student involved in all sorts of clubs, leisure activities, hobbies and sports. Gainesville is well known as a charming, southern college town. Students who come to Gainesville fall in love with its gracious, tree-shaded streets, diverse cultural and arts activities, lively downtown and super shopping venues.
The University of Florida and City of Gainesville are partners in providing students with a myriad of cultural and athletic events, concerts, recreational opportunities, restaurants, theatres and lifestyle amenities that make Gainesville a great place to live, learn and play.
Living in Gainesville
Gainesville is a place where nature and art combine to offer a lifestyle of learning and cultural growth. Gainesville has an active downtown area vibrant with nightlife and cultural arts. The city hosts fun events like the Spring Arts Festival, Jazz Fest on the Plaza and the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. On campus, the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts presents world-class concerts, symphony orchestras, Broadway plays, opera and large-scale ballet performances. Right next-door is the Florida Museum of Natural History – Florida’s premier state museum of natural history, dedicated to understanding and preserving biological diversity and cultural heritage. UF is also home to the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, which houses a permanent collection of more than 6,000 original works including paintings, sculptures, prints, ceramics, photographs, and cultural objects.
Sports and Recreation
Gator Sports play year-round, and there’s never a dull moment when it comes to intercollegiate competition. UF’s intercollegiate athletic program has achieved excellence in 18 NCAA sports for men and women. A founding member of the Southeastern Conference, only Florida and UCLA have ranked among the nation’s 10 best athletic programs in each of the last 20 years, according to national all-sports rankings.
For those who prefer playing to spectating, the UF campus offers numerous outdoor courts and playing fields, as well as indoor courts and fitness facilities in the O’Connell Center, the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, the Southwest Rec Center and the Florida Gymnasium. Campus boasts two pools, the historic outdoor Florida Pool, and the heated, indoor O’Connell Center Pool. Lake Wauburg, just a short drive south of Gainesville, is the university’s lakeside park, offering free equipment and training for sail boating, canoeing, kayaking, climbing wall, bouldering grotto and high ropes course. All recreation sports and fitness facilities and programs are free to UF students.
Off campus, there’s nowhere else like Central Florida when it comes to natural beauty. Central Florida ‘s crystalline clear fresh water springs, rivers, lakes and nearby beaches complete the outdoor idyll that is the Gainesville Area. Bicycling, hiking, boating, swimming and fishing are a few favorite outdoor activities students enjoy, and the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean are just a short drive away.
Student Dental Organizations
Student clubs offer professional development and social networks that can make dental school in Gainesville lots more fun and meaningful. These student clubs host health fairs, community health screenings, student/faculty events and conduct community oral health education outreach. Dental clubs available include the American Student Dental Assocation, American Association for Dental Research, the Christian Dental Society, the Florida Association of Women Dentists, the Hispanic Student Dental Association, Psi Omega, and the Student National Dental Association.
Educational Service, at Home and Abroad
During spring and winter holiday breaks, students spend long hours in “clinic,” laboring over patient after patient until their arms ache. Their operatories may be a wooden chair in a schoolroom with no electricity, a bench under a thatched hut, or even a truck bed – no location is too primitive to be pressed into service.
Dental students who participate in these service trips are travelers who have embarked on a journey that leads them across country and cultural borders during three college sponsored international humanitarian trips to the countries of Dominican Republic, Yucatan, Mexico and Ecuador. While the Dominican Republic trip is not affiliated with a foreign university, UF has established ongoing partnership exchanges with Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Quito, Ecuador and Universidad Catolica Nordestana (UCNE) in San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic.
Exchanges between institutions are not a one-sided affair – the UF College of Dentistry has welcomed students visiting from its sister institutions in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. This free exchange between institutions has gone a long way to erase many cultural biases for both participating students and faculty.
Ultimately, however, every trip rests on the foundation of the humanitarian aspects of providing dental care to people who may not have otherwise had access to it. Often, those people are poor, live close to the land, and are in remote locations that lack the standard amenities of the modern world.
Dental students give care to these grateful patients – and, in return, the students gain experience, perspective and a deep appreciation for their patients they, perhaps, had not expected to find.
Traveling abroad isn’t the only opportunity for students to serve needy patients. Plenty of opportunities exist right here at home. The College of Dentistry is one of the largest providers of low cost dental care to Florida’s indigent residents – more than 70 percent of the college’s patients meet federal low income guidelines.