Deondre set her sights on improving her life through education and found the Dental Assistant program at FCC in Orlando

Orlando DA Student Won’t Let Past Define Her

Your past should not stop you from achieving your dreams, Deondra White learned the moment she looked into the Dental Assistant program at Florida Career College’s Orlando campus.

It was something that had always stopped Deondra in the past and left her with dead-end jobs at fast food restaurants and call centers. The truth was, her life had changed drastically since she had her baby eight years earlier. The girl who fought and partied and ended up incarcerated was gone, but Deondra was afraid her past would always hold her back. The staff at FCC told her differently.

“I had a rough life and a rough past so I didn’t think I could work in a dental office or do something so professional,” Deondra said. “I’m the type of person who has started a lot of things, but I never finish so I was kind of nervous. I didn’t want to start something and not finish it, but I was excited. I was focused. I really wanted it. I knew I needed to do something quick because I’m getting older. I had to do it this time. I just had to.”

Deondra found the support at FCC kept her on track.

“I had a great teacher,” she said. “She would text my phone every day to ask if I was coming to class. If I had a missing assignment, she would text my phone. She made it easier because she was so outgoing and stayed on top of me.”

Aracelis Rivera, Deondra’s instructor, said Deondra struggled with a few of her courses but by the end, she was able to find some stability.

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“She was a good student when she came to class,” Aracelis said. “She was going through a lot of personal things when she was coming to FCC. I helped her a lot. I’m glad she’s moving up and progressing.”

The Career Services staff at FCC worked with Deondra to find an externship that was a good fit for her. During her externship, Deondra’s biggest struggle was her own fears. She was nervous about using her skills but with encouragement from her supervisor, she began to come out of her shell.

“She was a very shy student, but the office manager states that Deondra always shows up on time, eager to learn new things,” said Reneka Logan, Associate Director of Student Affairs at FCC Orlando. “She is very hands-on and has a great rapport with the patients. If she finds that there’s something she’s not good at, she gets in there every day to try to be better than the day before.”

“One day I gave myself a pep talk and ever since then I talk to the patients, we laugh, I’m not shy at all,” Deondra said. “I think I was shy because I didn’t know what I was doing. It was something new for me and I was kind of nervous. I’m more confident now speaking to patients and people. I also feel like if I start something now, I can finish it. Since I did this, I feel like I can do anything in life.”

Just a few days into her externship, Deondra was offered a job.

“No matter where you come from or what you did years ago, just stay focused and give it 100 percent,” Deondra said. “I had a rough life and a rough past so I didn’t think I could work in a dental office or do something so professional. Don’t let that stop you. Keep going.”