Ivy Tech gave me one of the best experiences of my life. I was given stimulating classes, successful teachers, challenging moments, and a job opportunity. More importantly, I was given an education that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This is my story, my ups and downs, the good and bad; the moments that got me where I am today.

I was "that student" out of High School that wasn't ready to commit to anything. Consequently it took me about 10 years to buckle down and make that decision to go back to school. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, until one day I went to my dentist. I was sitting in the patient chair when I had an "epiphany" and decided that dental assisting was what I wanted to do. I said something to my dentist about becoming a dental assistant and he had more than encouraging words for me, saying that I had the personality to do it and to go for it. So I did. Being a mother of two, I knew I had some challenges ahead such as finances, time, and travel. Fortunately, I knew that I had a huge support team behind me and a loving family to help me out with the girls. I took it to the next step and enrolled back into college. I was scared of a 4 year college because it had been so long since I was in class. I knew that they had smaller classes and that I could go to school around my schedule, not the other way around. Ivy Tech was only about 20 miles from where I lived, so Ivy Tech was able to make my dreams come true.

I enrolled into the pre-requisite courses for the Dental Assisting Program at Ivy Tech and gave it my full attention. I remember my communications teacher my first semester, I thought she was really tough, and I knew that she "meant business." I made sure I didn't miss any classes and sat in the front of the class, and beside other students that took the course serious. For about the first two-thirds of the semester she was my least favorite teacher, until one day it dawned on me. She wasn't a bad teacher, she wasn't mean, but she was tough. I realized her goals were that she wanted her students to thrive and walk away with everything that we possibly could. She told us how the course would go and she didn't drift away from it. You did the work the way she asked and you received the grade you deserved. I mean, it was only a communications class, so it's not like you would need any of that in your everyday life! We had this huge final project, this huge final exam and I was terrified. I knew I had to succeed in this course in order to get into the Dental Assisting program. I knew the better my grades were, then the better the chance I had of getting accepted. I strived for an A. I remember the first day of her class, she told us about an assignment that we had and if we did it right, then we would ace the final. Well, turns out I did it right and not only did I ace the final, but I also aced her class.

I made the Dean's list 3 out of the 4 semesters I was there, and the one I didn't was because I was enrolled part time as I was waiting to be accepted into the Dental Assisting Program. This was also the most challenging year of my life. While I was on Winter break and waiting for the semester to start, my children's father was in a serious car accident. He is now a quadriplegic. I don't say this to ask for sympathy, I tell you this because it made me stronger. I was forced even further to do the next right thing, for the next right reason. I will admit, I was angry, and I was ready to give up, but I was constantly reminded that I couldn't. I was working part time, attending classes part time, a full time mother who just moved out onto her own with the kids. I just simply wasn't allowed to give up. A few months later, I got the news that I was accepted into the Dental Assisting Program. This was the best news ever! Now, I was struggling with how I was going to go to school full-time, and be a full-time mother. Could I possibly fit work into this hectic schedule? With not enough hours in a day I chose to file for financial aid.

It was an intense episode for me when I was denied. I tried changing my majors, I tried going down to part-time, I tried everything. With work or school being my only two options, I decided to speak with my student advisor. He recommended that I don't change my major, and not to give up. I said a few prayers, and they were answered as I became eligible for financial aid. Now I was into the program and making new friends. That first semester flew by as I was so fascinated with everything I was learning. As I was attempting to receive financial aid for the last and final semester of my education, I was once again denied. This time I didn't just panic, I was ready to give up. The financial aid department basically told me that it was now out of my hands, and there wasn't much I could do except to fill out this one piece of paper. I went to the Chair Advisor of the Dental Assisting Program and cried my eyes out. I'm not sure she knew what to do with me. She encouraged me not to give up and to stay focused and that together, we would figure something out. I turned in that piece of paper and did a lot of praying. At the last minute, I somehow became eligible. I don't know what exactly happened that day, but I was blessed.

I continued on into my last semester. I made some strong relationships with my peers, and learned a lot about teeth! We were required to do 300 externship hours over the summer and then we were on our own. Luckily for me, I was hired on at my externship site. They weren't in need of any extra help, but apparently they weren't willing to let me go anywhere else, and made room for me. I have since been able to use all of the skills I learned through my educational experiences at Ivy Tech. I currently work at a Pediatric Dentist Office and I couldn't be happier. Through Ivy Tech, I have been given the opportunity to broaden my horizons. At work, we do far more than just general chair-side dentistry. My continued success I feel is attributed to the experience I had at Ivy Tech to do a successful job. Ivy Tech Dental Assisting Program and their Teachers gave me the foundation I needed to start off on my career. My externship office believed in my skills giving me the opportunity to do more.

In conclusion, Ivy Tech, their Dental Assisting Program, and their professors have helped me to become a successful young woman. Ivy Tech's professors have the success of their students in their hearts and minds. The Dental Assisting Program has well prepared me for my future in Dental Assisting. Ivy Tech helped me with finances, advice, and an education. Ivy Tech itself was a tremendous experience. "Happy to be a filling fixer, patient preparer, saliva sucking Dental Assistant."
Joni Kruse, CDA/EFDA