Elizabeth Isidro has always been a good student, but it took trusting herself and accepting support from others to work toward a career she was truly passionate about.
Ever since she got braces in high school, Elizabeth said she has been fascinated by the dental industry. She knew being a dental assistant would be interesting but when she graduated from high school, she took the advice of others and decided to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in sociology. Two years into the program, she knew it was not a good fit.
“I was a good student there, I was on the honor roll as well, but it was a career that was really difficult,” she said. “I would have to study really hard, do a lot of essays and a lot of reading. It was entertaining but it wasn’t keeping me happy. I started thinking I this something I want to do for the rest of my life?”
Elizabeth had looked into dental assisting programs in the past but found they were mostly online and that didn’t interest her. With some searching, she found UEI College in Huntington Park. It offered the hands-on experience she was looking for and the friendliness of the staff blew her away.
Ultimately Elizabeth decided to enroll.
“The first thing that really grabbed my attention was I felt comfortable,” she said. “It looked like something that would motivate me to keep going and it was a career I always wanted to do. It brought my attention to the point that I never got bored, even doing homework.”
Elizabeth has always been considered shy, but at UEI she began to come out of her shell. Her instructors encouraged her to ask questions and take notes and as her confidence built, Elizabeth became an ambassador for the school.
“I was getting straight A’s and perfect attendance,” she said. “Every certificate I was getting motivated me more to keep going. OK, I got this.”
“Elizabeth was a wonderful student and a pleasure to have in class,” said Deborah Ornejo, Elizabeth’s instructor. “She was always super helpful and a fantastic ambassador. Elizabeth was always so willing to help anybody that needed help including myself.”
Elizabeth even stepped up to help other students find volunteers to practice their skills on, Deborah said. She was unafraid to visit other UEI programs and ask for help so every student could have a volunteer to work on.
When it came time for externship, Elizabeth was nervous to put her skills to the test. She was even more nervous when she was assigned an externship site that required a long bus ride to get to.
“My best advice to anyone is just look back and tell me if you want to go back to where you started. If you’re here now, don’t stop,” she said, and that’s exactly what she did. She would wake up early every morning to take the long bus ride to her site. When her hours were completed, she was offered a position within the company but much closer to home.
“In the beginning I would feel really nervous,” Elizabeth said. “I would get scared easily. If I did something wrong in the beginning, I would be ready to give up. Thanks to my professor and my advisor, I was able to continue. They taught me that you won’t learn on the first try. It takes time. That’s true. There are things I wasn’t able to do in the beginning, it took practice. I feel like thanks to them, I’m the person that I am. I will never know how to pay them back for everything they did.”