We’re very proud of our alumni at Carrington College. We’ll be using ‘The Connection’ to introduce you to a few of them from time to time, allowing them to share their stories and hopefully inspire you with their success.
Cassie Lewis was a student at our Spokane campus in 2007; she graduated from the Dental Assisting certificate program after completing her externship in December of that year. Cassie decided to enter the Dental Assisting program after working a variety of customer service based jobs for many years.
“I worked in real estate, in clothing, in jewelry for about 15 years. I felt that I just moved from one dead-end job to another; I wanted to get a career. I saw the college commercials on TV, and as I’d always had an interest in dental I decided ‘enough’s enough, I’m going to go back to school.’ “
The timing was right for Cassie as her own kids were a little older and in high school; that made it easier for her to go back to college and still manage her other commitments. The decision to pick Carrington was a relatively easy one…once Cassie had weighed her options.
“Carrington was a great fit for me. I’m the kind of person that once I make a decision I want to jump right in. I looked at another local school but their program started in early Fall. I didn’t want to wait 6 months; by that time I probably would have talked myself out of it somehow. But the Carrington classes started every 6 weeks so that was really convenient for me, it allowed me to get going!”
When Cassie spoke with a Carrington College Enrollment Services Representative, she could have chosen to study the Medical Assisting or the Dental Assisting program. But the dental profession appealed to Cassie from the start.
“I felt from the beginning that pediatric dental was the direction I wanted to go; my heart was set on it. I’m a very caring, nurturing person, and being a mom I really wanted to work with children. I wanted to educate them about dental care and give them the opportunity to learn how to take care of their teeth.”
Cassie felt that going back to school when she was a little older really helped her focus, and worked in her favor. She felt that as an older student, her work ethic and study habits benefited her.
“I was there for me, because I wanted to change my life; my head was in absolutely the right place. I wasn’t there because I was fresh out of high school and didn’t know what to do. I knew exactly what I wanted and why I was there. What’s more I was paying for my education, so I wanted to take the opportunity to get everything out of the school that I could.”
The biggest thing that Cassie took away from Carrington, other than her qualification, was the way the instructors prepared her for what’s out there in the real world.
“They didn’t send me out with rose-colored glasses; and they didn’t set me up to fail by raising my expectations of jobs and salaries, or by telling me I was going to get a job right away. They prepared me mentally for the challenges that were out there, and to take the initiative when opportunities came along. Other things you can learn from a book, or from hands-on practice, but mental preparedness is the biggest thing that I took away from the school.”
Cassie was fortunate to be offered a job by the dental office where she completed her externship, but they took her by surprise…
“I didn’t know I was going to get hired on until the last day of my externship. It was a sad day going in because I didn’t know what I was going to do next, but by lunch time they surprised me with the offer! It was an amazing opportunity. I went from extern on a Friday to employee on a Monday!”
Cassie worked in that office for about 10 months, but because she wasn’t working with children she knew it wasn’t the place she wanted to be long term.
“One of my classmates was hired at Hero Dental, a pediatric dental office; one day she called me to let me know that they had an opportunity opening up. I got an interview with the owner, and was offered a position that was half dental assisting and half front office.”
Cassie had front office experience in her previous job, so she was a perfect candidate for the role at Hero Dental. The office had only been open a month and they needed her versatility. She was in the job for about 3 months before the position of office manager opened up; Cassie was offered the role, the position she still holds today, and one that she hopes to stay in for a good while to come.
“I keep my dental assistant license active because I worked hard for it, but generally my position is front office now. I haven’t done a prophy or an x-ray in about 3 years. I really enjoy where I’m at; I enjoy the children, the staff, the work. We will have been open four years in July, so I hope to stay here and help the practice continue to grow. We help low income children, so we open offices in areas where the children will benefit. We have 16 offices across the U.S. currently.”
As Cassie looks back on her time at school 4 and a half years after graduation, we asked her what advice she would offer students considering attending classes at Carrington College and here is what she said:
“They need to take the initiative; if they don’t take the initiative they’re not going to succeed. They have to realize that they are at school to better themselves, to get an education that can help them find a career. If they don’t give it 100%, then after graduation they’re going to have a harder time. If they go in and give it everything they’ve got, then they can succeed. It worked for me.”
Thanks for your time Cassie and good luck with your continuing career at Hero Dental!
If you would like to read more about Hero Dental, they were the ‘Employer Profile’ feature in the March edition of our newsletter. You can read that article here if you missed it!
For comprehensive consumer information on our Dental Assisting program, please visit carrington.edu/degrees/dental-assisting/
Program availability varies by location.