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Carrington College Blog

Faculty Spotlight – Meet Cynthia Wood

June 1, 2012

Cynthia WoodCynthia Wood is our Faculty Spotlight star this month; Cynthia is the Dental Assisting Program Director at our Mesquite, TX, campus.

Although born in Kansas, Cynthia considers herself to be a true Texan as she has lived in the Lone Star State off and on since she was 12. She finally settled back in Texas after her last ‘re-settlement’ about 12 years ago. Cynthia was the dental program chair at another school in Dallas before joining our Mesquite faculty in January this year to prepare for the campus’ first students in February.

Like many of our Carrington College faculty members, Cynthia has a huge amount of experience in her field; she has worked in and around the dental assisting profession for more than 30 years. But her first love was not dentistry; when she was younger Cynthia wanted to be an actress!

“I’ve had a very unusual and wonderful life. I wanted to be an artist, specifically an actress. My mother told me ‘Cindy, if you want to do that that’s fine, but you have to have a career to fall back on because acting is not very stable.’  I have to say it was the only time I really listened to her!”

Taking her mother’s advice to heart Cynthia looked at nursing programs, as well as considering a couple of options in the science field before making her decision on her ‘fall back career’.

“I decided dental was for me; mainly because there were no bed pans involved!”

Cynthia knows that she was fortunate to pursue both an acting and a dental career; she was a member of Actors’ Equity for many years, touring with notable theater stars such as Elke Sommer, Don Knotts, and Gary Burghoff, who played the famous character Radar in MASH.

“I never really left acting but unfortunately my mother was truly right, it’s not a very stable career. I loved that time of my life, and it contributed to my ability to teach in an interesting way. There is a lot of theater in teaching; you need to always engage your students, to keep a fire lit under them, and keep them wondering what will happen in the next ‘scene’.”

Cynthia completed her own education in ‘dribs and drabs’ to use her own words. She always took up acting opportunities as they arose, and she made her education work around that. She started with a diploma in Dental Assisting, then earned an associate’s degree in Health Sciences, and is about to complete her bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management from the University of Texas in Dallas.

At 60 years of age, Cynthia is very excited about this new chapter in her life, as a vibrant part of the Carrington College Mesquite family.

“We have a wonderfully assembled faculty and staff. I’m so pleased to work at school where people really care about how well everybody else does. To me the definition of teamwork is ‘to work tirelessly to make everyone else look good’ and everyone does that at this campus for both the students and each other. I find it so easy to want to be the best when you have that kind of support, and I love everybody I work with. How many people get to say that?”

Cynthia was married to a dentist; together they had a family dentistry practice in Dallas for a number of years. In fact Cynthia was her husband’s first dental assistant back in the 1970s, although she didn’t work in the practice after they married.

“We didn’t subscribe to the practice of wives working in the husband’s dental practice; it can create too much drama, and drama was something we tried to avoid whenever possible! We did go our separate ways for a while, but then we reconnected later in life. But Bob died of bladder cancer in 2007. My mother died in  December and then Bob in  April, so that was a crummy year to say the least.

I spent a year crying on the couch, but then I had a dream where Bob told me ‘you need to be back in education, you were great at that!’ So I got off the couch and took his advice, and 4 or 5 years later here I am at Carrington College, and I just love it! It turned out to be great advice from beyond!”

Cynthia has never regretted making the change from practicing dental assisting to teaching the profession; she finds education so rewarding because she can really make an impact on peoples’ lives.

“At my last school I had a student who had endured a very tough life; she was a bright young lady but with very little self respect. No one had ever taken the time to tell her ‘you are talented, you are capable, you can do this’ in any aspect of her life. She had every ability, but so little self-regard. So we worked hard together, and with every success you could see this incredible change in her.

She graduated, got her license, and called me about a year later to tell me that she’d been accepted into Dental Hygiene school and she was flying through her first year. She just wanted to tell me how much my help meant to her. And that’s what it’s all about for me.”

While Cynthia is passionate about her students, she is equally passionate about the need for vocational schools like Carrington College.

“I’m sure that going to university for 4 years to learn Italian Literature may be very interesting, but is it going to help students find a job? We teach trades that people can try to build a career around, skills in needed services -typically allied health. Schools like Carrington provide opportunities for students who maybe couldn’t manage a 4 year degree for any number of reasons – time, money, family or job commitments. We teach skills for life.”

During our faculty spotlight interviews we try to unearth a nugget of information that you would never guess about our faculty members, and Cynthia did not disappoint!

“I went out with Wayne Gretzky [NHL Hall of Fame Hockey Player] a few times when I was touring in Canada. This was back in the 80s when I was in my 20s; somehow I got interviewed by the Toronto Sun for a feature they still run – Sunshine Girl – It’s kind of a cheesy thing! They take your picture, and run a small interview. Anyway I said I loved Canada, that it was a great experience being ‘up north’ and that I would love to meet the ‘Great One’ [Gretzky’s nickname] even though I didn’t really know who he was!

Anyway, long story short, I guess he liked my picture because I got a call from his manager. I thought he was kidding! I said ‘If Mr. Gretzky wants to ask me out, he can call me himself!’  The next day he did. We went out a few times whenever I was in Canada. He was a fun guy, a very nice gentleman.”

If that dating insight wasn’t enough, we wanted to give you a further glimpse at a side of Cynthia you may not know from campus! We asked her what book, movie and music she would want with her if she was stuck on a desert island, and who she would choose as a companion?

Desert Island Movie – “My first inclination would be to say all of Doris Day’s movies, but that just makes me sound really old! Having said that, I would probably take ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – I love that movie.”

Desert Island Book – “I love David Sedaris’ books; he’s a comedy author and you’ve got to laugh in life!”

Desert Island Music – “I think I would take all of my classical albums.”

Desert Island Companion – “Probably my dog Sheba, if I could resurrect her on this fantasy island!”

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Cynthia! Keep up the good work! We know your students appreciate you, and so do we!


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