Dental Assistant, NashvilleRakeea

“On my daddy’s side there’s 14 of us. All girls, one boy. I’m the last child. I’m the first one to graduate high school and I’m the first one who is trying to push through college in my family. I didn’t have a 4.0 at the community college. It was high school all over again. I went my first semester, kept my grades up. But it was not for me. I thought college should be like TV college. But it ended up being like high school. Same people, too. I ended up dropping out.


I wanted to be in the health field. I wanted to be an RN around the time that my grandmother was alive. I wanted to take care of her. By the time she died, I was 15. I said, ‘Forget it. I don’t want to do it anymore.’ I didn’t have any patience for it. So it took me a minute to see what healthcare I wanted to do.

I started the Dental Assistant program in August of last year, and I should be graduating this coming May. My mother kept telling me that she was going to get the surgery to get implants. I told myself I wanted to be the one to put them in. I didn’t tell her until I was three months into the program. She was mad about it, but happy at the same time. ‘You’re not doing it for me, you’re doing it for your son.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s true, too.’

“I thought college should be like TV college. But it ended up being like high school. Same people, too. I ended up dropping out.”

Recently I went to Memphis. My daddy had a heart attack; he’s 76 years old. He’s still in the hospital. He was in ICU when I went down there the first time. I missed three days of school. Before I left, I told him, ‘Look, my grades dropped. I need you to get better so that I can get back to school. You got to get it together.’

My support system is my son, Andrew. I already got my son a savings account. His future is way important. Even though I am struggling trying to get there, he’s gonna get there way before me. I promise that.

It’s just me, my baby and my husband. I stopped working this whole year while I went to school and my husband has been paying all of the bills. Every time I get home, I learn something new, and I get into their mouths. ‘Looks like you have two cavities. I see those fillings. We need to do something about it.’ I think they’re definitely more excited than I am.

“My first month here, I didn’t get an award. I knew I could do better. The next month, I got President’s List.”

If you come here, you won’t be mad, unless you give up. If you don’t believe in yourself, there isn’t any way you can do it. But if you have a little bit of hope, you can do it. I thought it was hard. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to pronounce these big words in these thick books. It’s a challenge, but you’ll get used to it.

They help you through, step-by-step. If you don’t know, go ask any instructor. Someone knows. I can call them on weekends. You know they don’t have to do that, but they’re here for you. It’s pretty exciting to know that you have someone, besides family, on your side. Once I got here and I got to meet Ms. Carrie… I don’t know, she broke it down for me. She didn’t make it hard to learn teeth at all. I didn’t think that I was going to understand any of it, but I did. She made it understandable. If it were not for the teachers, I would’ve gave up the first day.

My proudest moment was Awards Day. I mean, my first month here, I didn’t get an award. I knew I could do better. The next month, I got President’s List. It just takes focus. Focus in school and class.

After May, I think I am going to start off at a small dental practice and then work my way from there. All the way up. The ultimate goal is to get in an office and stay in that office. I want to be a dental assistant to an oral surgeon. My biggest goal is to make sure every patient that comes into the office leaves with a smile.”

We’re in this togetherRead More of Our Stories

Courtney, Hammond“I was one of those kids that didn’t really want anything for myself.”

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Sandy, Nashville“I spent a good portion of my life in shelters, churches and people’s homes.”

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Faisal, Hammond“I worked as an anesthesiologist, which is quite different from being a teacher.”

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Are you a Brightwood College student, graduate or staff member?We’d love to hear your story!

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“The proudest moment of my life was when I had my first interview and they offered me the job. I am happy with the place, and I love my job!”

Mariana, Charlotte Graduate

“My parents are both immigrants. Being the first in my family to go to college has made my parents proud.”

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Anna, Friendswood Student

“Always follow your dreams even if it seems as if you could never accomplish them. Nothing is impossible!”

Gisselle, Las Vegas Student

“I needed to do something hands-on and slightly behind the scenes. So I chose pharmacy technician. The job I am doing is a perfect fit for me.”

Bright, San Antonio - San Pedro Graduate

“As a first-generation American, first-generation college graduate, and having been a young parent, I am motivated to help my students, many of whom share a similar life experience.”

Alex, Chula Vista Campus President

“I proved to myself that obstacles do come your way, but when you have your mind set on what you want you will achieve it. I’m now a dental assistant!”

Paula, Corpus Christi Graduate

“I get to help students take that next step and push themselves to be more than they thought they could.”

Joe, El Paso Career Development Specialist