Program Director, San Antonio - San PedroPeggy
“I graduated from here as a dental assistant and worked out in the field at a private practice for about four years, and went on to work at the UT Health Center at the dental school. I was there for 11 years, went back to school, and decided that I wanted to teach dental assisting. I’ve been teaching for around 20 years, and I’ve been the Dental Assistant program chair for about 10. So I’ve been with the company about 25 years!
Now that I’m a program chair, I still teach every now and then, and I help manage the dental clinic that we have. It’s a great program because during their last module, students actually get into the clinic and work with the doctors before their externships. So they get firsthand experience and work through all the jitters before they actually do their externships. And actually, right now, we are the only school that offers a dental clinic in our live program.
I love working with the students. I love seeing them successful. It’s my passion. And it’s so great to see them start and finish and get hired. Every day, as many days as I’ve been here, I don’t regret walking through those doors. I love what I do. I love walking in and meeting students and greeting them, working with them one-on-one, helping them work through those obstacles that they sometimes face.
“Success is being able to accomplish your dreams and your goals, and striving for that goal.”
Sometimes they just can’t see outside the box, and we just need to be there to help them with that. I have many students that stand out, but one in particular was a young lady who was pregnant. She had two children, was a single mom, working two jobs while coming to school, and she had lost her transportation. Every day she’d come into my office and cry and say that she couldn’t do this anymore. I would just remind her, ‘Yes you can. Here are some other resources. This is just a stumbling block, you’re going to get through this.’ And, sure enough, she walked the stage. I still get emotional when I see her. Especially when I saw her walk the stage. She was so excited.
We just tell them we’re accountable to them every day. We’re not like traditional colleges where if you come to class, great, and if you don’t, oh, well. We care about you, we want to make sure that you’re successful. We want to see you out there. We want to see you get that job. And when you’ve done that, then we feel like we’ve done our job.
And we tell them from the very beginning, we’re going to call you if you don’t call us and let us know that you’re not going to be here, because we’re accountable to each one of you. We want to see you be successful. You’re investing your time, your money. We want to make sure you can get out of here, get a job, and you’re successful, and you have all of the tools to get through this.
The toughest part of my job is when you have students that just can’t see the end result. And they’re just stuck in that area, where they just can’t see it, and nothing you say or do is going to make them see that. It’s difficult, and it’s challenging, but it’s sad. Because you know that at some point, they are going to say, ‘I should have finished. I should have done this.’
Sometimes you have those students that, three to four years down the line, they come back.
I am proud of the success of our program and the team that we’ve grown together. Most of my instructors have been here for 15 years plus. We have a great team and, I think, just seeing the success of our program, and seeing how it has grown and developed throughout the years, is really, really rewarding.
“I tell my students that I am a living testimony of what you can do with your success as a dental assistant.”
My family is really proud of me and the accomplishments I’ve made throughout my career. They were like, ‘Wow, Mom. I didn’t know that at a small vocational school could grow so much, that you could touch so many lives.’ So they’ve really supported me, and they’re there for me. My older daughter came here, also. She came through the Dental Assistant program.
Success is being able to accomplish your dreams and your goals, and striving for that goal. At the end, knowing there is a bright future or outcome. If you continue to pursue that goal and that dream, you will be successful. And Brightwood has given that to many students. It has done that for me. I tell my students that I am a living testimony of what you can do with your success as a dental assistant. And there are so many avenues that you haven’t experienced, yet. Dental assisting is here to stay. For the next 10 years, it is one of the biggest career opportunities that is going to continue to grow. And San Antonio is huge. In two weeks, I received 12 calls from different doctors looking for dental assistants. So the jobs are out there. It’s just what you want to do with it — the sky’s the limit. You just have to start. That’s the hardest part. But once they get here, and they get into the classroom and they start to talk to the instructor, and they start to feel comfortable, it makes it much easier for them.
I once had a student say, ‘I’ve never had anyone give me a high-five or tell me I’m doing good.’ It’s heartbreaking. I had one student tell me one time, ‘Thank you for giving me a hug. I haven’t had a hug for three years since my mom died.’ Those are the things that we see that our students need. That’s why I love my job.”