Aaliyah De La Cruz

Passion Sparks Achievement for Dental Assisting Student

Aaliyah De La Cruz has never seen herself as someone who was very good at school, but after attending UEI she discovered maybe it wasn’t her abilities that were lacking, but her passion.

Aaliyah says growing up she struggled with school and with her home life. She recalls watching her siblings excel, while she struggled with every assignment and was told she would never amount to anything. She endured long hours at the dinner table, doing and re-doing assignments until they were acceptable. The trauma planted a seed in her mind to someday prove everyone wrong.

“I wanted to show my mom that even though she put me and my siblings through a lot I could do it and not give up,” she said. “I wanted to walk across that stage with a diploma and a smile on my face and show her that I’m a fighter and that I have resilience.”

After graduation, she attended Empire Beauty School for Cosmetology, but she struggled to focus.

 “I felt like it wasn’t for me,” she said. “I like doing hair and makeup but when I was there I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t feel like it was for me. I couldn’t see myself doing this for hours each day.”

At the time, Aaliyah’s partner was attending the electrical program at UEI in Phoenix, and encouraged her to take a look at the school.

“I wasn’t really sure, then another friend told me she was doing Dental Assisting and loving it,” Aaliyah said. “I told her I had never considered dental and she told me she was the same way, but the school had changed her mind. So I decided to give it a try.”

The first day of class, Aaliyah jumped right in, making impressions and working hands on in the lab. It instantly lit a spark inside of her.

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“I was so excited,” she said. “I posted to my instagram story and shared it with all my friends. They were all surprised by how excited I was. They had never heard me talk about something like that before.”

Aaliyah’s excitement was only compounded by the fact that she got to attend school with her partner. They would go to the campus together, take their breaks together, study together and encourage each other.

“She told me even if I wanted to quit, she wouldn’t let me,” Aaliyah said.

Luckily, Aaliyah never felt the urge to quit. She was feeling career ready after just eight months in the program.

“I like that I get to go there and learn what I want to learn,” she said. “Everyone there is nice and kind. If you need help they will help you right away. I have fallen in love with my program. I love the school itself.”

As she looks towards graduation and a future in the dental field, Aaliyah is also taking away a new love for herself.

“I am a fighter,” she said. “I don’t and won’t give up. I will make my family even more proud of me and do better than them like they told me. I will never give up no matter how hard I’m struggling. If I fall, I get back up and keep trying. I have resilience. My advice would be if someone tells you you can’t do anything, don’t let that stop you from what you want to do. Take the right path and keep your head up.”

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