My journey in the dental field began in the sixth grade during science class. While discussing the eruption stages and how teeth formed my heart leaped. I decided in that moment, at age twelve, I would be a Dentist and travel the world to help people. Although my journey into dental school took a turn for hygiene school, the excitement of the little girl in science class still lives inside of me. Since graduating hygiene school in 2010, I have held many positions that molded me into the business owner I am today. I am excited to share my journey with fellow women in dentistry!
I attended the University of New Haven and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene. Even during my studies, I knew I wanted a role more diverse than full-time hygiene. The summer of my junior year of hygiene school, I took advantage of an opportunity to travel with the university on a dental mission trip. Determined to provide preventive services for two weeks in Romania, I fundraised $5,000.00. The first 48 hours of my trip, I couldn’t keep anything down. My worst nightmare came true, I had worked so hard to serve others and I couldn’t get out of bed. Calling home on an international phone, my mom reminded me of why her initial concerns were valid. I was the only one out of our group of eleven who was sick, although my diet was no different than the other eleven in our group. After hours of praying, I had the brilliant idea of boiling my water. I slowly felt better and was fueled by my desire to serve. For the duration of the trip, I survived off cereal which was the only item accessible that didn’t offer too much fiber or upset my stomach. Despite the physical challenges, I would do it all again ten times over.
I didn’t realize it then, but the trip to Romania ignited a passion in me to continue to serve others. One year after my first trip, I found myself traveling to Kenya. My initial spark for dental school fizzled when I realized my ability to impact those without access to care, both locally and abroad. In 2013, three years after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree, I enrolled in my first class to obtain my Master’s Degree in Public Health. Working full-time as a dental hygienist while completing a two year accelerated program was the best thing I could have done for myself.
The interesting thing about missions is that we arrive to serve and we are served by the people. Each time I travel on a dental mission, myself and team members are greeted with open arms. The people come to clinic with hearts overflowing in gratitude for the preventive services we provide. I use every ounce in my body to pour into others, and yet I always leave mission trips more joy-filled than when I arrived.
One month after completing my MPH, I attended a conference called Career Fusion. The four-day conferenced helped me determine what was next for my career. Despite my own hesitation for public speaking, mentors told me I was a natural. I left with a goal of becoming a published author and my goals quickly multiplied. After having my work published, I became Chief of Clinical Technology for Jameson Management, and nine months after my initial goal to be a speaker, I delivered my first presentation for three hundred dental hygienists. I’ve learned that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Having an amazing tribe of supportive, like-minded people who share the passion and vision as myself has allowed me to be where I am now.
After a company downsize, I was left with two options go back full-time clinical or pursue my passion empowering others to elevate their own careers. I refused to give into fear and I started my own company called Millennial Mentor™. The company empowers business owners to understand how to effectively interact, manage, and motivate millennial team members and patients. I offer transition solutions for Millennial business owners who have purchased an existing practice, as well as those launching their own business. I enable businesses to thrive by coaching multi-generational teams to work in harmony. In addition to the coaching services, I continue to provide continuing education for dental professionals with multiple speaking engagements every month. Often connecting hygienists to public health organizations and teaching the role of the public health hygienists, I am fulfilled.
I strongly believe there is never an end to what one person can achieve, we just have to trust the process. Find someone who is doing what you want to do, and follow their footsteps. I have no doubt that there are women in dentistry who will teach when you don’t have the answers because it continually happens for me. When there is a professional opportunity to try something new that excites you, say yes! Say yes, even if you don’t feel fully equipped because there is no growth in your comfort zone. Together we learn, support, and thrive as women in dentistry!