Q & A: Interview with Sonia Maldonado, West Covina Dental Assistant Instructor
Sonia is a UEI College West Covina Dental Assistant instructor and has been a valued member of UEI College since 2009. She completed the Dental Assistance program, and after working in the field for some time, she grew a passion for teaching.
1. CAN YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE WHAT YOU TEACH IN YOUR CLASS?
Dental Assisting and occasionally Life Lessons 101
2. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS CAREER FIELD?
I worked as a Dental Assistant for some time and loved to teach new assistants in the workplace. I was in a horrible accident which left some lingering damage to my right hand. My hand would constantly go numb causing me to drop things like instruments and such without much control. I knew I would no longer be a valuable asset at a dental office. I loved teaching and enjoyed doing what I was doing, and I thought to myself, “I’m already good at this, may as well stay within the field”. One day, I called UEI – El Monte campus to ask about their open positions and now I am here.
3. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH EVERY STUDENT KNEW BEFORE STARTING THIS PROGRAM?
All of the wonderful possibilities and outcomes they might have.
4. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER JOURNEY.
I never thought I’d do this, let alone teach. Originally, I wanted to be a Mortician. But mother said, “No, that is such an ugly field.” I remember I was watching TV and saw a commercial for a vocational school and I said, “Alright!” And I had just gone to the dentist and saw the RDA polishing teeth and I said, “I’ll do dental.” So here I am.
5. WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE TO HELP GRADUATES SUCCEED IN THIS FIELD?
Give it all you got. Don’t stop at just assisting. Use your skills and don’t waste your talent!
6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Watching the students faces light up when “they get it”. I love making a difference in peoples’ lives.
7. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS AROUND THE CAMPUS?
Dollar Tree, Tastee Goodie, Starter Bros, McDonald’s, Starbucks
8. WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST SINCE STARTING AT UEI?
My patience. I was never a patient person, ironically enough!
9. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES UEI STAND OUT FROM OTHER SCHOOLS?
I know it sounds “cliché” but I feel like the staff, instructors, everyone at UEI College genuinely cares about our students’ success and their well-being. That is what makes us different. We actually become role models, mothers, fathers, mentors and even just a listening ear to our students. They get a sense of “family” and a comfortable place for them to thrive. I work very closely with my students and get to know some of the issues they are facing. I might see some possible “red flags” and I am able to identify them as a problem and provide a possible solution for them to have a successful outcome. My directors support me and provide me the flexibility to do this.
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