“The Whole World Smiles With You”: Meet PNW 2023 graduate Bianca Cortez

December 4, 2023
Bianca Cortez

Bianca Cortez, ‘23, knew since age 8 that she wanted to one day become a dentist. Through middle and high school, she did more research and knew she loved science and math. She found her home in Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Biological Sciences program to begin her pre-professional pursuit of dental school.

“Ultimately, I want to help people,” says Cortez. “I think one of the first things people notice about you is your smile, and that says a lot. I think you should love your smile, and that’s how I want to help somebody and my larger community.”

Cortez’s inner drive to help people and build community has translated into her on-campus involvement. She is a first-generation student who has served as a peer mentor in TRIO Student Support Services, a student worker in the office of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives and most recently as president of Unidos Club.

Following graduation, Cortez has her sights set on attending dental school in California, a place she “fell in love with” when she first visited at age 18.

“It’s such a beautiful state, and I love the beach. If I’m going to be studying for several more years, then I would love to have the beach as my escape!”

Why did you choose to attend PNW?

“It was affordable for me and close to home. I wasn’t ready to be away from my family and felt like I wanted to spend time with them and grow more. PNW was the only university I applied to, and I applied directly to the College of Engineering and Sciences. I knew PNW had phenomenal programs in the sciences. I don’t regret it!”

How did you become interested in your major?

“Biological Sciences was a good foundation and pre-professional option for preparing for dental school. Growing up, I looked up to dentists. I also saw a lot of them were men, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t achieve a position like that.”

How did your experiences with extracurriculars shape your PNW experience?

“I wanted to be involved right off the bat coming into college. I joined the Spanish Club and Unidos Club, and they were both positive experiences in similar ways. Unidos Club is what caught my heart because that’s where I started building my leadership skills. I have a lot of passion for the Latino community, and it meant a lot to advocate for and spread awareness of our culture, create a safe space for Latino ethnicities and be in a space where you can have conversations without judgment.”

What did you like the most about PNW?

“Building relationships. I have built so many relationships with not just my peers, but also with faculty and staff. I can walk the hallways and say ‘hello’ to so many familiar faces and have a conversation. There’s so many people who have made an impact on my journey here.”

What words of advice would you share with prospective students?

“No matter where you come from, PNW has a place for you. It’s an inclusive university, and there are opportunities for growth and welcoming people who will help you find your niche and make you feel like you belong. Come here because you will have a blast!”

Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?


Iris Sanchez

Director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives

Jorge Lopez

Director of TRIO Student Support Services

“They both continue to support me whenever things get hard. I’ve been able to open up to both of them. Iris has been there for me professionally in my work and Jorge has seen my academic growth.”

Catalina Rodriguez

Former assistant vice chancellor for education opportunity programs and director of trio support services

“Each and every day, what I do here on campus is not just for me but also for her. She was one of the first faces I saw during my new student orientation, and everything just fell into place from there. She helped me meet new people, exposed me to new resources in TRIO, and helped me learn to be proud of being first-generation.”

Azrael Jimenez sits in a baja car

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