Faculty Spotlight – Meet Kassie DeCorte

Kassie DeCorteKassie DeCorte – Isn’t that a wonderful name? She could be a movie star, or a southern belle resting on the stoop of a Louisiana mansion… But no, Kassie DeCorte is the Dental Assisting Program Director at our Carrington College Tucson campus – and we’re very pleased to have her! Kassie was a dental assistant for 8 years back home in Arkansas; she worked with an oral surgeon for 7 years and a general doctor for 1 year. But during the latter years of that period Kassie decided that she needed to make a change. At the time she was still trying to figure her life out; she knew she wanted to be independent, start her life over, and return to college. So she put her finger over a map, closed her eyes and landed on Tucson, AZ.  Arizona worked for her; she grew up in ‘Tornado Alley’ and wanted to go somewhere where the weather was better!

“I had 2 young children and had just gone through a divorce. I needed a fresh start so we moved to Tucson in 2006, and I got into college. I earned my Associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy. But as a new graduate my first job was working nights; that just didn’t work with a young family. So I had to decide if my career was more important than my children; and there is only one answer to that.”

Kassie decided to go back to her first love – the dental field. She spent a couple of years at a dental office in Tucson before joining Carrington College in May 2011. When the opportunity came up to teach, it was something that she felt she had to try.

“I had no teaching experience whatsoever before I came here, but this is the first career I’ve had that came naturally to me. In fact I was surprised by how natural it felt. I was hired as a part-time instructor, and when someone left they offered me a full time role. I then started to assume some of the Program Director (PD) duties, and in April of this year I interviewed for the PD job and got it!”

Kassie enjoys her job because she gets to reach out and give back to people who are striving to better themselves. She feels nothing is more rewarding than that. Kassie takes great pride in earning the respect of her students, and seeing them achieve their goals.

“I’ve tried really hard to tune in on the personalities in the classroom; they come from all different walks of life. I’ve built up a really good relationship with my students. This job has made me realize how fortunate I’ve been most of my life. Some of our students struggle on a daily basis, but they want to do something to change the cycle. That in itself is very rewarding; their stories are what drive me.” Some of the help and advice we give goes beyond education, it can be about lifestyle change.

October 12 will be her third graduating class, and she still expects to shed a tear or two along with the families and friends of those graduating from the program.

“It’s a feeling I can’t even describe. It’s like watching my own children going up there to graduate. It’s a long, long road for some of them; even though it’s only a 9 month program, some students struggle every day with everything they have going on in their lives. To see them walk across that stage is incredibly rewarding, I can’t even really put into words.”

Kassie firmly believes that people can change the cycle of their lives; they just have to want it enough and stay on the path. A line that she truly believes in is “The future you see is the future you get.”

“A lot of people don’t have people in their lives to support them; they don’t have people to tell them that if you set your mind to it you accomplish something that will help you break the cycle. Despite what your friends or family may tell you – you can do this. You just have to want it bad enough. I always tell my students on their first day with me, ‘if you work hard for me I’ll work hard for you.’ “

When she’s not working hard for her students, Kassie enjoys hanging out with her family, watching her kids play sports. She married her husband Jason in May 2011 and they have their hands full at home with 4 children between the ages of 7 and 11; 2 are Kassie’s children and 2 are Jason’s, but together they are one big, happy, energetic family! As we like to do, we asked Kassie to share something that her students may not know about her, and she had a couple of things up her sleeve!

“First I don’t think my students know that I’m a boxer – recreationally only! I enjoy my face too much to do it any other way! And secondly my cousin used to date Kenny Chesney before he was famous. I actually met him later after his first record deal, not knowing who he was because I’m not really a country music fan. At the time I was like ‘whatever’, then a little while later when I saw him on TV I was like ‘oh my gosh I met that guy!’ “

As we do with all our Faculty Spotlights, we asked Kassie 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 DVD – “It’s a little embarrassing, this is going to sound awful, but I love the Twilight movies! My 11 year old daughter is really into them, and I’m afraid I am too!” Desert Island Book – “That’s definitely a tough one! I do like mysteries, but I can’t think of a favorite author now you’ve put me on the spot.” Desert Island Music – “Something like John Mayer. It’s very soothing; I like to listen to soothing music on the drive home from campus, and I think I might need soothing on this desert island to keep my sanity!” Desert Island Companion – “It would have to be my husband Jason. He’s my very best friend and I love him to death, so I would definitely take him!”

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Kassie!  We appreciate your time and your ongoing work with our students in Tucson!   For comprehensive consumer information, please visit carrington.edu/degrees/dental-assisting Program availability varies by location.

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