Meet DH Student Christina Thomas

Christina Thomas knew she wanted to work in the field of dentistry. It’s what she knew, what she’d been trained in having graduated from dental school years ago in India, where she’d moved as a young child after being born in New Jersey.

But there were challenges. After graduating from dental school, she’d married and moved back to the U.S., where she found many of her credits wouldn’t transfer. She looked at getting her doctorate in dentistry from a Kansas City university, but that would take four years and incur a lot of debt.

“It was not worth it,” Thomas said. “I started looking into other options.

“I knew I wanted to stay clinical.”

Discovering the Concorde Dental Hygiene program

Thomas looked into a local community college, but it required a number of prerequisite courses she wasn’t interested in.

Then, she found Concorde and its Dental Hygiene program.

“The admissions representative there was really helpful,” Thomas said. “I had a good feeling about it after the first meeting. I met the program director, who was very friendly. I just had a good instinct, a good feeling. I didn’t look any further.”

Thomas said she had to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills and one other test, and she was in. She started the Dental Hygiene program at Concorde – Kansas City program in August 2015 and is scheduled to graduate in February 2017.

“It’s only 18 months to get licensed, and I can start working,” she said.

Enjoying the Concorde experience

Thomas said the educational system in India is much different from that in the U.S. Here, she said, students are required to take exams on an almost weekly basis. In India, it’s much more about practical, real-world learning, which is similar to the Concorde curricula.

“I had to take all the general courses,” she said. “Most of the instructors were really helpful. If I had a problem, I felt like I was heard.”

Becoming a Lamplighter

Thomas remembered during her orientation hearing about a Concorde student ambassador program called the Lamplighter. She remembered hearing that new students were eligible to sign up as a Lamplighter after two terms. She did and said it’s been a great experience.

“I really like it,” she said. “I get to help students in the cohort after me. I help organize events, volunteer in the community. I get to help society, give back.

“I love helping others. I also get leadership opportunities I had never gotten in the U.S. before.”

What’s next?

One of the aspects Thomas said she enjoys most about the Concorde Dental Hygiene program is having the opportunity to work in the clinic on campus, where she gets to treat real-world patients.

“We have cases that are harder than you get in a private clinic,” she said. “I don’t feel we need an internship or externship. We’re ready to start after that.”

Thomas said she’s scheduled to take her licensing exam at the end of March. She said she wants to work in a private dental clinic, but also wants to work in public health. She now volunteers for Smiles Change Lives, performing administrative tasks for the public orthodontics service.

Thomas said she also hopes to get more education down the road. She said Concorde has made all this possible.

“After I came to Concorde,” she said, “I felt I had a chance.”

Dental hygienists

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“Concorde was one of my best vehicles that helped me gain the confidence I needed to change my life. … It all started with a vision, a will and Concorde.”

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“I think it’s an amazing school. When I sat down for boards, I felt more than adequately prepared. If you put the work in, your success is almost guaranteed.”