Bringing joy - and education - to patients and classmates
Jose Gigato Gonzalez, DDS ’23, has always had a passion for artistic skills. He spent his spare time in undergraduate studies pursuing photography, as well as volunteering. He also knew he loved, and had great skill for, science. His bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Miami in Biological Sciences and Multidisciplinary Studies furthered that expertise.
When it came to deciding what to do with his life, Gigato Gonzalez embraced those seemingly unconnected paths. “I wanted a profession that could combine arts and manual skills with science,” he explained. Dentistry was the perfect fit.
Gigato Gonzalez watched his cousin become a dentist in Cuba, where he was born and raised, and became inspired to follow in her footsteps. “She showed me the everyday life of a dentist, but also how rewarding it was to help people restore their smile,” he explained.
When it came to choosing a dental school, the University of Minnesota attracted Gigato Gonzalez because of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. “I thought that my unique background could be something helpful for other students and for patients,” he explained, “and I could also learn and interact with others with different experiences.
Gigato Gonzalez was a bit hesitant to jump into dentistry due to the financial load of pursuing a dental degree. His scholarship funds made the decision easy. Gigato Gonzalez is the recipient of the Roland Jones Scholarship, a permanent university fund that has allowed him to focus on clinical work and studies without concern for his finances.
“As a minority, I felt it was an opportunity and a privilege to not only study what I loved, but also get financial help to do so,” Gigato Gonzalez explained. “Being honored with a scholarship made me feel that I could do it, and that others saw potential in me.”
The weight and responsibility of receiving a scholarship are not lost on Gigato Gonzalez. “I am grateful for being a recipient of the scholarship, and I feel a responsibility to keep up the good work and show that I am worthy of it,” he explained, reflecting on the desire to succeed and use the funds well. “It also makes me feel like an example for other minorities, that we are seen and rewarded with opportunities.”
Gigato Gonzalez has certainly lived up to the potential of his scholarship, working hard in and outside the classroom and serving his patients well. But his favorite part about the School of Dentistry is the community of students he has found here. “I have met wonderful people with interesting backgrounds and takes on different aspects of clinic and life in general,” he explained. “I think I have formed a solid group of friends that help me get through dental school, and I hope those relationships still stand after we graduate.”
When graduation comes for Gigato Gonzalez in 2023, he hopes to work in a private practice, focusing on esthetic dentistry, or pursue a general practice fellowship. No matter which path he decides upon, he hopes to continue making an impact on his patients’ lives.
“I love seeing patients happy with the services I gave them,” he explained. “Just doing restorations is not enough. Educating them and giving them the tools to improve their oral hygiene is important. I do this so I can be the best dentist I can be to my patients.”