Ivan Grijalva is a Dental Assisting Instructor at our Tucson campus. Born & raised in Tucson, this is Ivan’s first teaching post after 8 years working as a Dental Assistant and Dental Technician. Ivan joined our faculty in October last year.
To get us started Ivan, tell us a little about your experience in the field.
I went to dental assisting school in 2005, and by January 2006 I was out working as a Dental Assistant. Prior to joining Carrington I was a Dental Technician at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, and prior to that I was working as an Expanded Functions Dental Assistant in Pediatric Dentistry.
What made you want to get into teaching?
Part of my last role at the air force base was training airmen to be Dental Assistants; it was something I really enjoyed and something I seemed to be good at. When I saw this opportunity, I thought to myself that instead of doing this for two or three people at a time, wouldn’t it be cool to do this for thirty people at a time?
What do you feel you bring to the classroom?
I figured that I have all this great experience, wouldn’t it be great to share it with students. I’ve worked in operating room dentistry, oral surgery, and pretty much all the specialties, except maybe orthodontics.
By exposing them to my experiences and sharing insight into the differing specialties, I feel that I may be able to open their eyes to the wider opportunities available in a dental assisting career. While they’re learning the theory and the science behind something, I like to think that my real-life examples of how these things work will add to their learning experience.
As you’re relatively new to teaching, how are you enjoying the experience?
It’s been incredibly rewarding. There’s always something new and exciting going on, and this job keeps me busy and interested. It’s very challenging, but I’m constantly learning something new myself, which is great for my own career as well as those of my students.
My most rewarding moment so far is one particular student who was having a really tough time; he had a lot of tough stuff going on in his personal life and wanted to drop out. But he stuck with it and fought through; now he’s out on his extern, doing really well and they want to hire him. Seeing him do so well, and come back so enthusiastic, so excited and so proud of what he’s achieved, is very, very rewarding.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I did a lot of boxing when I was a kid, from 9 to 19, so I had this thought that I was going to be a professional boxer. But as I got older I realized that wasn’t something that would be easily attained; the chances of success were slim! So I took a more logical career choice than getting my brains beaten out of me for a living!
You’re 31, so you were just 22 when you got into the field. Tell us about another job you’ve had?
I worked for Discount Tire for a couple of years after high school – I was in sales for a while, as well as doing the nitty-gritty of installing tires and all that good stuff.
If you weren’t a teacher today and money was no object, what would you be?
I’d like to be a dentist, and that is still a goal of mine. I’m trying to put a plan together. I’m sure it’s going to take a while because it’s expensive, but I’m looking at schooling now, it’s definitely in the works.
But in a fantasy world where money isn’t an issue, I’d like to be a rancher. I’d have a huge property with lots of cattle and livestock. It would be tough on the back, but I’d really enjoy living that simple life.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose?
That’s a great question… let’s see… probably Albert Einstein. I’d want to pick his brain. I’ve always been interested in science; that was one of the reasons I chose dental assisting – because of all the science behind it. When I realized boxing wasn’t a strong career choice, I always wanted to go into something to do with science.
Tell me a little about your family?
I’m married to Maribel, we’ve been together for 12 years. She’s an Operating Room Assistant at Tucson Medical Center. We have three wonderful children – our eldest daughter Jasmine is 11, my son Ivan Jr. is 9, and our youngest, Priscilla Nicole, is 7 years old. I’m 31 so we got right to work in our early 20s!
If you knew you going to be stranded on a desert island, what book, movie & music would you take
Book – I don’t want to get too religious, but I’d probably take the Bible because I’d need something to get me through whatever I was going to go through.
Music – I would probably take some country music, something by George Strait.
Movie – I think I’d take the movie ‘Castaway’ with me – I’d need some survival tips from Tom Hanks.
What’s the single biggest piece of advice you’d give to new students?
I would just say when times get tough, which they probably will at some point, just remember the things that drive you. Remember the reason you came to Carrington in the first place, and don’t lose sight of your goals. Just keep on trucking through!
Last question – you get an unexpected afternoon off, what would you do with the time?
I’m all about the outdoors; at the weekend I really like to be outside working with the land or building something. I love working with my hands. So with an unexpected afternoon off, if the family was busy doing their thing, I’d probably go to a home improvement store to scope out building materials, tools and that type of stuff for the next project!
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