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College of Science & Engineering


Cayla Prophater and Chie Nguyen
Cayla ProphaterCayla Prophater is a biology major, Pre-Health student, NCAA swimmer, president of the TCU Pre-Dental Club, and now, a published author. Her children's book “Stella the Shark Has a Toothache” was inspired from integral opportunities in and out of the classroom.
Prophater began her journey into the dental profession by adjusting braces as Dr. Kara McCulloch’s orthodontist assistant in her hometown of Mercer Island, Wash. She began at TCU in 2020 as a biology student on the Pre-Health, Pre-Dent track. While undergoing TCU’s CORE curriculum, Prophater spent some time outside the lab in a children’s literature class, where former TCU professor Virginia Hodges, Ph.D., encouraged her to write a book for her TCU Tooth Fairies project. Prophater received the TCU EPIC (Experimental Projects to Impact the Community) Grant which fueled the project. 
The TCU Tooth Fairies project aims to boost oral hygiene awareness and provide resources to the community. They’ve teamed up with the Mercy Clinic of Fort Worth and local Fort Worth Independent School District elementary schools to leave a sustainable impact. Its goal is to empower the community to have the resources they need for stellar oral health.  
TCU’s College of Science & Engineering has been a catalyst in her endeavor. 
“The College of Science & Engineering truly lives up to its mission of fostering knowledge as so many of my professors and advisors have been incredibly helpful in making this book come to life,” said Prophater. She met illustrator Chie Nguyen when they were both teaching assistants for Heidi Conrad’s, Ph.D., general chemistry lab, and Laura Luque, Ph.D., translated the book into Spanish.
TCU Tooth Fairies
She credits TCU alum Dr. Courtney Favaloro, Dr. Matthew Streelman, Dr. Brad Judy, Dr. Jerold Brazeal, Matt Chumchal, Ph.D., TCU librarians, and TCU EPIC Grant advisers for their help in reviewing and editing the book and ensuring the content’s usefulness in educating readers about oral hygiene. 
Following graduation, Prophater will be working as an oral surgery assistant in Seattle, Wash. during a gap year before dental school. 
“I have enjoyed meeting so many amazing patients over the years and delivering essential dental hygiene information to children and parents, ensuring everyone has access to care.”
Learn more about the Pre-Health Professions Institute here.