For My Kids, For Myself. Dental Assistant Graduate, Shante Halilovic, Shares her Story!
Shante Halilovic was the first one in her family to complete high school – and now college as well, as a graduate from the Carrington College Dental Assisting Program in January 2022. Shante was born in California, raised by her father, who moved her at the age of eight to Boise, Idaho in an effort to keep his children together. The rest of her past history need not be recounted, only to say Shante has lived a challenging life from an early age, with enough rocky roads and cliffs to fall any other less determined person. But she survives and succeeds, even when facing failure head-on. At the age of 29, with five children under the age of 9 to her name and a very supportive “adopted” family, Shante has a new career as a Dental Assistant in Boise. She has a new direction and has learned to surround herself with encouraging supportive people, like the ones at Carrington College and now at her new job, to keep her on her path to success, to be a role model for those five children. She hopes that by setting an example of the hard work she is saying to them yes, you can surmount obstacles, and try again, and again. She shares her experience here in the hope that it will speak to readers who want to better their life and set new life goals. She hopes they will find encouragement from her story.
How did you find Carrington College?
About two years ago I found Carrington College and decided to enroll in dental assistant training, but about halfway through the program I dropped out. I was not making smart choices in my life at the time and it was catching up to me. I am very lucky that I had met my adoptive mother about 5 years before, who was willing to care for the kids while I figured things out.
So what did you decide to do?
I decided to return to Carrington. I had to start completely over. I told myself I had to do it. I finally realized that if I wasn’t going to do it, there was just no other choice: if not now, then when?
Was that hard?
Yes! I knew I had to do something positive to better myself. My kids kept me going too.
How did you decide to get your Dental Assisting certificate?
Actually, I went to Carrington wanting to do the Medical Assisting program because I had worked as a caretaker. But I met some others who told me about the Dental Assisting Program. It interested me; we had never had good oral hygiene growing up. It was never something that important in my family. So I checked it out and found it intriguing.
How was your experience at Carrington?
It was a very proactive place. Everybody is there for everyone; they make sure you are doing okay with the demands of your personal life as well as your school responsibilities.
Was there anyone there that stands out for you as particularly helpful?
Yes, I’m grateful for my regular instructor Ms. Elisa King and my lab instructor Ms. Estela Pulido. They really helped to push me forward even when I was discouraged.
Tell me about your externship.
When I first got to the externship, I felt they were just like my teachers at Carrington, pushing me forward, helping me to keep going. At first, I got a part-time externship; I had to complete 300 hours. The externship turned full-time eventually, but I still had to study for my courses at the same time. My schedule was challenging, but they always made me realize my own worth. That was a big thing. When you’re surrounded by those kinds of people it makes a big difference.
So what were the most challenging things you overcame while working on your certificate?
I think working around my personal life at all the different stages of the program. Last April when I started I had a job washing clothes – picking up people’s laundry, bringing it home to wash & fold and returning it. At least I could be home while it was washing. I took the kids to school in the morning and dropped the two youngest at daycare eventually; before that my adopted mom and sister would watch the younger ones.
And then there was COVID. The whole family got it. That was hard. I felt terrible but I knew I had to really keep going so I wouldn’t get an extension. On the day of the final test, I was still sick, but I had to get up at 8 am to sign in to do the test online, to show I was really there. The last thing I wanted to do that day was the final exam, but I did it. And I completed the course.
I understand your externship turned into a job. Congratulations!
Where are you working?
At Affordable Dentures and Implants in Boise. I assist oral surgeries, extracts, implants – there are very long days sometimes. On other days I do x-rays, teeth cleaning, that kind of thing.
There are three assistants and one doctor.
Now that you’ve gone through so many challenges and yet completed your goal of graduating from Carrington College and getting a good job, what can you say about the work that you’re doing that makes you feel this accomplishment?
(She hesitates…) I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I just know these patients come in with really bad teeth and they leave walking out with a better smile, like they haven’t ever seen themselves smile before. They’re glowing.
Thank you, Shante, for sharing your story.
Thank you. I’m glad I did.