Brazilian dentist Marcio Barros worked as a campus guard before earning Canadian credentials
Marcio Barros never gave much thought to the violence around him growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, even when his own dental practice was twice broken into and robbed.
That is, until it threatened the safety of his young family.
“When I was single, I was used to all the violence, thinking if I was careful it wouldn’t affect me,” says Barros, who comes from a family of dentists and worked as an orthodontist for 15 years in Brazil. “But after my wife, who was pregnant with our first son, was robbed at gunpoint in 2002, we decided it was time to look for a better place to live.”
The irony isn’t lost on him when, after moving to Canada to pursue an international dental degree, he had to make ends meet by working as a UBC security guard, patrolling campus and monitoring security cameras.
“We have [security] staff with a variety of backgrounds. But Marcio was our first dentist.”
“I needed a job but also time to study,” says Barros, adding that the four-day-on, four-day-off schedule allowed him to prep for entrance exams into UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry while his staff status qualified him for tuition credits.
Fortunately, the most unruly incident he had to deal with during his tenure as a campus cop involved a kidnapped evergreen.
“Some students stole a 12-foot-tall Christmas tree as a prank, and we later found it at a frat house,” recalls Barros, who left the job in 2011 to study full-time and is graduating this month with a Doctorate in Dental Medicine.
“UBC was a great employer and I made great friends at Campus Security. Everybody supported my pursuit for a better life here and cheered me on.”
Although international dentists can now take the National Dental Examining Board of Canada exam to practise in Canada, Barros says he’s grateful for the additional training he received at UBC. The two-year International Dental Degree Completion program is extremely competitive, admitting only a dozen students a year.
“We have a state-of-the-art clinic and were trained in the latest materials and techniques. It was amazing,” says Barros, whose practice in Brazil focused on orthodontics but will now expand to include general dentistry.
With an offer to join private practice, Barros is looking forward to raising his two kids in Kamloops, B.C. (his second son was born shortly after arriving in Vancouver). His Campus Security boss says Barros will be sorely missed.
“We have staff with a variety of backgrounds—bankers, scientists and even a graduate in archival studies,” says Campus Security Associate Director Paul Wong, who was Barros’ manager. “But Marcio was our first dentist.”