Laura Burgos spent several years working at a company in Oceanside, California that manufactures dental implants and other oral prosthetics. It was a good job for the young, single mother.
“There I developed not only in my skills, but also in knowledge of the dental industry. I knew from company meetings how it was always going to continue growing,” she said.
Things were going well with the stable job, but Laura always wondered about establishing a long-term career path. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, it trigged a lot of self-reflection for her.
“While I have never struggled to be employed, this pandemic showed me how life really is unpredictable and having a career, rather than just a job, could give me the fulfilling rewards that I was seeking,” Laura said. “I longed to return to school – to go to college to increase my potential.”
Laura had always envisioned a career in health care because she wanted to do something that would allow her to help others.
“After my mother developed a chronic illness, I thought nursing might be my path because it might also help me take better care of her,” Laura said. She attended a licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program for a while “but in my heart I knew nursing wasn’t for me. I had lost sight of my real goals and dreams to stay in the dental field,” she said.
That’s when she found UEI College in Oceanside.
“I felt at home at UEI from the very beginning. Everyone here is rooting for your success and the instructors are really great,” Laura said. “I find myself truly knowledge-hungry every day. I am loving attending UEI College, learning new skills, taking impressions, x-rays, and assisting at chair side. I find myself studying to stay ahead, and asking questions all the time. I feel truly engaged in class and that has a lot to do with the great instructors like Ms. Kimpton. She really cares about all of the students and takes the time to make sure we are learning everything.”
“Laura is such a dedicated and committed student whose passion for the Dental Assistant program shines bright through her hard work and efforts in school. I’m quite certain that Laura will be successful in the dental field and there’s no limit to what she can and will accomplish. Laura inspires me to be a better teacher because her hunger for knowledge is something that challenges me daily,” said DA Instructor Jacklyn Kimpton.
A Scholarship to Smile About
Jacklyn encouraged Laura to apply for a special scholarship being offered by the Pacific Dental Services Foundation (PDSF). Recognizing the importance of dental assistants to the future of dentistry, PDSF created the Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship to provide students with need-based financial aid, mentorship, and on the job training. Named after Dr. Carolyn Ghazal and her heart for service, the scholarship aims to mold the next generation of passionate, servant-hearted, dental assistant leaders. Over the past few years PDSF has given over $600,000 in scholarships to DA students, including several from UEI College.
“The scholarship provides students with financial support and mentorship as they pursue a career in dental assisting,” said Dr. Carolyn Ghazal, Chair of Associate Dentist Development at PDS University – Institute of Dentistry. “My hope is that it will make a significant impact in the life of a DA student and foster their professional and personal development.”
Laura wrote an essay about her motivation to pursue a dental career and submitted the application for the scholarship. She was selected as a finalist for an interview with the scholarship committee. Then, in December while on a Zoom call with other scholarship finalists, it was announced that they were all selected to receive the honor.
“That was a pretty amazing day,” Laura said. “I was absolutely thrilled for all of us, and I am so very grateful for this scholarship and opportunity. Thank you so much to the Foundation.”
“Congratulations to Laura on being selected as a recipient of the PDS Foundation Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship! Laura is a driven individual with a heart for service and we are honored to support her in her dream of becoming a dental assistant. We look forward to watching these students grow in their career as they positively impact the lives of patients,” said Kyle Guerin, Executive Director of the Pacific Dental Services Foundation.
“I know I want to be a Registered Dental Assistant after I complete the program at UEI and there is no doubt in my heart this is where I belong,” Laura said. “I will continue to work hard and be the best student I can be. I pride myself in encouraging my classmates to work hard and help them out any chance I get. I cannot wait to be a part of a dental team helping people with a wonderful smile, one patient at a time.
“It has been a delight to have Laura on campus and we are very happy that she was selected for the PDSF scholarship. We know she will make us proud when she graduates and embarks on her dream of a dental career,” said Alex Poyuzina, UEI Oceanside Campus President.