19 May Jon Cartu Declares: Changing Lives Through Dentistry | Touro College of Dental
General Practice Residency, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY
As a father, son, dental technician and now a dentist, Jaleel Bolden is committed to moving forward for the sake of his family and community, while never forgetting where he came from.
Growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a neighborhood struggling with violence and poverty, Jaleel dreamed of being a dentist. Now, after a circuitous route that advanced his career at every stage, he is about to graduate from dental school and begin a residency at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
“I’m proud of where I came from and always made it a point to take steps forward to better my personal situation,” says Jaleel, who also spent part of his childhood in Georgia. “It’s very important to me that my children can see that my many years of dedication was worth it through being able to provide a better future for them while also showing them how important pursuing your education is.
“I also need to have this degree in my back pocket so show them that if I can do it, they can do it too,” continues Jaleel, referring to his son and daughter. “Even my mother and my aunts tell my cousins to look at what I’m doing because they can do it too. My children are smarter than I am, and I want them to see that when you use your brain, anything is possible.
Jaleel began his career pursuits with an associate’s degree in Dental Technology from New York City College of Technology (City Tech), learning how to make crowns and bridges, and graduating at the top of his class. He headed to Georgia to earn his bachelor’s degree, then back to New York to enroll in TCDM. “My dental technology background has provided me with a very solid foundation, with all of the secrets needed to succeed in my field,” he says. “Since I have a deeper understanding of why a crown should be shaped a certain way or why a denture needs to extend a certain amount, I can use that key information clinically.”
At Montefiore, he hopes to see complex and unusual cases, which will prepare him for a specialty in prosthodontics. He would like to go into private practice in the future, perhaps in Brooklyn, where he can give back to his community and improve people’s lives.
“I’m continually amazed at how I can change people’s lives through dentistry,” he says. “Recently, I had a 55-year-old patient who was sharing selfies of his smile after his appointment because it was the first time in many years that he could open his mouth and smile, showing teeth he could be proud of. That is the kind of stuff that makes you feel really good about the impact you’re making.”