Now that she is a college graduate, Jennifer Johnson feels secure about her future. It wasn’t always so.
The 26-year-old Welland resident previously attended another college for nursing, but discovered quickly that it wasn’t for her. She spent the next seven years, working minimum wage jobs, as she figured out which career she wanted to pursue.
“I grew up always being involved and interested in my own dental health, so when I finally had the opportunity to go back to school, I knew that Dental Office Administration was exactly what I wanted to do,” said the lifelong Niagara resident. “It fit who I was and my lifestyle.”
After hearing recommendations from friends and acquaintances, Johnson attended a College open house, where she had an opportunity to speak to staff and students first-hand. That’s when she decided enrol in the College’s Dental Office Administration program.
“I knew that this school was exactly where I wanted to be,” she said. “It was such an inviting atmosphere and I was definitely welcomed.”
At first, Johnson said she was “rather nervous” and felt “uneasy” since she had not always enjoyed school. What at first felt daunting however, soon felt like home, once she settled in and met faculty and fellow students.
“Everyone was so kind and helpful that it really made the difference in my college experience,” she said.
Johnson was determined to do her best, no matter what.
While it was challenging to balance college life with working to pay her expenses, it didn’t take long for her to get into the swing of college life. She became a class representative, earned a spot on the President’s Honour Roll, and received an award from her professor at the end of the year, acknowledging her proficiency in preventative dentistry.
“This meant a lot to me, considering how unsure I was in the beginning,” she said. “It definitely gave more to me than a certificate though; it shaped who I am as a person for the future.”
Johnson feels optimistic about the future now that she is a college graduate. She is exploring career opportunities and hopes to further her education in dentistry someday.
“I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck in the same cycle of minimum wage jobs, and so going back to school was the best thing I could have done for myself,” she said. “Now I am able to find stable work that will allow me to live the life I was searching for, for so long.”
She hopes to share advice to future students from her own experience, that college can be difficult – especially being away from friends and family – but they should not be afraid.
“If you’ve chosen a program that you know you want to thrive in, and you put all your dedication to it, you will succeed,” she said. “Not only will you learn about your field, but you will learn about yourself and the world around you.”
Now that she has completed her program, she misses those who surrounded her at the College and the experiences that helped shape her. She reflects on her days at NC as one of the best experiences of her life.
“I definitely feel honoured being a part of something so great,” she said. “Even in times of doubt, I pushed myself, and I will be forever grateful that I did.”
Johnson graduated from Dental Office Administration on June 22.