Adriana Sepulveda, dental assistant student and Colombian immigrant, selected for a $5,000 scholarship and mentoring program.
Adriana Sepulveda was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. As a child, she was inspired by her grandfather to think about a dental career.
“In order to be a dentist at that time, you also had to study medicine, and that’s what my grandfather did in the United States,” Adriana explained. After medical and dental school, he returned to Columbia and set up the first medical and dental clinic in the Santander region.
“I am a woman with a lot of gratitude for life. I come from a very traditional family. I have five sisters and had a childhood full of an abundance of love and prosperity. My parents always taught us to help others, with the interest of making it a better country and world,” she said.
“But, my country had been experiencing terrible socioeconomic and political problems, and we were faced with many obstacles as a family. My father was kidnapped. Even after his return the guerrillas continued to bother us. My family just wanted to build a better world, create jobs and make a homeland, but the guerrillas continued with their aggressiveness and crimes against society,” she said.
In spite of the turmoil, Adriana worked hard running various businesses over the years. She was married and moved away for a while, but returned home after a divorce to provide care for her aging and ill parents until they both passed away.
“After they died I sold all of my belongings, packed a single suitcase, and left for the United States to pursue my dreams—without speaking the language and with no knowledge of the culture and norms of society in the USA,” she said.
When she arrived in South Florida, Adriana did whatever work she could find to support herself while becoming fluent in English, eventually becoming a licensed Spanish tutor at a school. All the while, she was determined to fulfill her goal of a dental career.
“I realized that becoming a dentist would take far too much time, and realized then it would be best to pursue a career as a dental assistant. I understood this too, would have obstacles but it didn’t matter. I was intent on realizing my dream of a dental career,” she said.
Pursing Her Dream at Florida Career College
Although it hasn’t been an easy road for Adriana, she is thriving as a dental assistant student at the Florida Career College (FCC) Boynton Beach campus.
“I love it at FCC. I love the teachers. It is not always easy but the hands-on approach is so helpful,” she said.
“Adriana is a student leader on campus who is always willing to help in any way that she can. Her story is remarkable, and I know she will do well in this field,” said DA Instructor Aleesha McPheron.
“Adriana is always willing to assist her classmates when needed. I have never NOT seen a smile on her face. Her positive energy is infectious. She is very passionate about being the best dental assistant she possibly can be. She has nearly perfect attendance and has earned straight A’s. We are very proud of her at the Boynton Beach campus,” said Aaron Morris, Executive Director.
Adriana recently received some unexpected help in pursuit of her dreams: she was selected as a 2020 recipient of the Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship, awarded by the Pacific Dental Services® Foundation (PDSF).
Recognizing the importance of dental assistants to the future of dentistry, the Pacific Dental Services Foundation 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 the Pacific Dental Services Foundation has given over $600,000 in scholarships to DA students. Adriana was awarded $5,000, marking the first time an FCC student has been selected for the honor.
“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.”
“I am elated that Adrianna was selected as a scholarship recipient by PDSF. She is very worthy and certainly deserves it. She is going to be a wonderful dental assistant with a desire to make an impact in the community, following her grandfather’s footsteps. We couldn’t be more proud of her at FCC,” Aleesha said.
“I am so excited and grateful about this scholarship. Thank you so very much,” Adriana said.
“Congratulations to Adriana on being selected as a recipient of the Pacific Dental Services Foundation Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship! Adriana exhibits a great passion and joy for serving others. We look forward to watching these students grow in their career as they positively impact the lives of many,” said Kyle Guerin, Executive Director of the Pacific Dental Services Foundation.
Adrianna’s goal after finishing the DA program in March is to find a dental assistant job, but in the long term she also wants to use her language and dental assistant skills to serve poor communities in South American countries as a volunteer for the international service trips that Pacific Dental Services Foundation sponsors. Through partnerships with dental schools and non-governmental organizations, PDSF has been able to support rural communities in these countries through treatment, and also providing equipment and supplies.
“I always remember the words Madre Teresa de Calcutta used to say: Whoever does not live to serve, does not serve to live,” she said.