Most people who have a bad dental experience might try to avoid the dentist’s office in the future, but Erica Williams decided to go the opposite direction.
Erica was just 23 and pregnant with her first child when she went to her dentist for some tooth pain. Her growing child was taking all the calcium in her body, causing issues with the strength of her teeth.
She was prescribed some antibiotics and sent on her way, but the problem did not resolve. After several more visits and more rounds of antibiotics, Erica got a second opinion from a second dentist who delivered some bad news.
“He gave me two choices,” Erica said. “He said I was going to have poison going through my body because I had a lot of puss in my mouth or he could pull all my bottom teeth out and do dentures to get my mouth back healthy.”
She chose the surgery and just a few days later all her bottom teeth were replaced with dentures.
“It made me want to go into the dentistry field because I don’t want that happening to anyone else,” she said. “If I’m able to help and help you nip that situation in the bud, I’m going to go out above and beyond to make sure you get the right treatment.”
‘SHE WAS THERE TO PUMP YOU UP’
Erica hadn’t been to school in years when she enrolled at Florida Career College. Her biggest motivator was providing a better life for her daughter.
“My daughter kept me motivated,” she said. “In the times when I wanted to give up, work was stressful and when I wanted to quit, she said ‘Mom, I don’t care what anyone else says, I’m going to make sure you finish.’ Sometimes she would help me with flashcards and homework. She is the reason I try even harder today to achieve my dreams.”
For the most part, Erica loved all the skills she learned in the program but when one module made her feel stuck, she really depended on her friends and instructors to get her through.
“At one point in time I wanted to give up, but I had my teacher, Ms. Hayes, she pulled me through with that extra one-on-one time and tutoring after class. I got it,” Erica said. “At Florida Career College I gained a whole other family there. They saw me through my way. They really got me where I needed to be.”
Nikki Hayes, Erica’s instructor, said Erica’s enthusiasm for the school became the motivation for everyone around her.
“I’m supposed to motivate her, but she motivates me,” Nikki said. “She would get there early with everything set up and ready to go. If she saw students in the hall who needed help or needed to know where to go, she made sure she was there early to take them to class. She would motivate students no matter what program they were in. She was there to pump you up and get you going.”
A WORLD OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES
As Erica went through the Dental Assisting program, she became interested in the different specialties offered in the dental world. She externed at a general dentist’s office but ended up specializing in periodontics within the office. She was hired at the end of her externship.
For now, Erica plans to keep working as a dental assistant but soon she plans to go back to school to become a dental hygienist. It’s a dream her daughter now shares too.
“Florida Career College changed me mentally, physically, and my whole atmosphere,” she said. “It changed everything. I never was as positive but Florida Career College gave me more positivity, and more encouragement to share with others. It made me able to go to the same classroom I sat in and talk to them about what the dental world is all about. They’re friendly, they are loving and they push you until you reach your goal or you reach your destination.”