Learner Perspectives: Meet Felipe Souza da Costa, DDS’24

Image of Felipe Souza da CostaBy Communications

Felipe Souza da Costa’s path to Schulich School of Dentistry has taken him from Brazil, to Canada (and back again) and finally to Western. He plans to use his degree to help bring health services to underserved communities.

Tell us about your journey to Canada?

Dental school is a six-year program in Brazil. From high school, you go straight to dental school. In my first year, I got a scholarship that enabled me to learn another language and study dentistry in one of several countries. I wanted to learn English, so I came to Canada to Brock University, and that’s where I met my husband, who was in undergrad at Brock. My scholarship ended and we returned to Brazil. But it didn’t make much sense for him to work in Brazil because of his field of research. So, we decided to come back to Canada, and that's when life did a complete 360.

And, finally to Schulich Dentistry?

I returned to Brock and finished the English as a Second Language program, and got accepted into Medical Sciences and also played varsity volleyball. From there, I was accepted to Schulich Dentistry and here I am.

Why dentistry?

My mom had a lot of oral health problems that affected her mental health. A dentist opened up a practice beside our home and helped my mom with her treatments, which changed her life. That’s how I became interested in dentistry: I wanted to help people on a daily basis, and impact someone’s life like he did. It’s very important to me to help people gain access to better oral care. It’s such an important part of overall health, and yet a lot of people don’t have access to it. I feel like I can make a difference.

Wait, you played varsity volleyball?

“It’s very important to me to help people gain access to better oral care. It’s such an important part of overall health, and yet a lot of people don’t have access to it. I feel like I can make a difference.”
— Felipe Souza da Costa, DDS’24

Volleyball is very important in Brazil, and I had played in clubs since I was 10. I wanted to be a pro player, but when I decided to go to dental school, I had to make a choice because professional life starts so soon. Fast forward a few years to Brock. The school had just reinstated its varsity volleyball program, and I made the team. I played varsity while doing the program and trying to get into dental school. It was a lot, but I’m not one to shy away from challenges.

What attracted you to Schulich Dentistry?

I chose Schulich Dentistry because it has a focus on serving people. Plus, the diversity of my class is amazing. We all bring different experiences to the table and that makes us better.

What does the White Coat ceremony mean to you?

I was raised by my grandma and grandpa, and we’re a very close family. In South America, family is very important, so it was quite a shock for them when I left home to go to university in Sao Paolo, and then leave for Canada. I know they wanted to be part of the White Coat ceremony, but unfortunately it didn’t make financial sense to bring everybody here. So, I went back this past summer and decided to bring the White Coat ceremony home.

Even though they didn’t really understand how I could speak another language and be a doctor in Canada, they were really proud of me.

What makes your journey so special?

If someone were to tell me I would achieve all of this, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. I also feel I represent a lot of immigrants in Canada, especially Latinos, who otherwise wouldn’t have the same opportunity that I have had. If there’s someone out there who is Latino who wants to be a dentist, they can see me and feel like they can do it.