Dental Hygienist makes the stretch for SJVC’s Online Bachelor’s degree program
Early last year when the coronavirus forced Dental Hygienist Krystal Almanza’s dental office to temporarily close its doors, she decided it would be the perfect time to pursue her Bachelor’s degree. The previous year she had completed SJVC’s Dental Hygiene Associate’s degree program on the Visalia campus and was enjoying working with her patients using her newly acquired skills and knowledge. But it had always been her intention to pursue education as far as she was able. “I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college and I want to have all the letters behind my name that I can.” At 35-years old, Krystal was ready for that next academic level and career bump-up.
What most attracted you to SJVC’s online Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene (BSDH) program?
“The way the Bachelor’s degree online program was laid out for us works for the way I have to learn things. I’m completely deaf in my right ear and with this curriculum and reading material I can teach myself in the way I have to learn things; and I can understand it better. And, as a graduate of SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program, the transition of starting the Bachelor’s (DH) program would be a lot easier than going to another school.”
What was the hardest thing you had to overcome?
“Probably just navigating online was a little intimidating for the first 5-weeks. I didn’t know how to upload documents and then overcoming different technical glitches. And, definitely, time management. There’s no wiggle room on the due dates. Either you have something done, or you don’t. All that (pressure) coincided with going back to work full time and learning new protocols to keep everybody (at the dental office) safe.”
What kind of support did you have to succeed in your BSDH program?
“My family (parents Norma and Eduardo) and teachers have been the biggest support. That and my faith. The bible tells us, Do everything as unto the Lord. I want to glorify Him by making the best choices and continuing to serve others.
How does Covid-19 impact your job?
“I’d been off work a little over 3-months and when I went back, I was promoted to Lead Hygienist in my office. Because of Covid, going back was like trying to hit a moving target. Covid was this new thing to navigate and at one point everything had to be wrapped and nothing could be on the walls, not even a clock. Now we know what to focus on and what we need to do as medical professionals. Dental health has a direct influence on overall health.”
What do you like most about being a Dental Hygienist?
“I definitely like the hands-on, working-with-patients part; that’s definitely my passion. Also, I’d like to think that, because of my unique learning situation and my own personal journey, I’d like to encourage somebody while they’re going through their own academic journey. I really have a heart for people.”
How do you balance classes with full-time work responsibilities?
“I do an average of 2-3 hours of homework Monday-Thursday and another 5-6 hours Fridays and Saturdays (days off). That’s my speed and I don’t feel rushed. I do have a learning disability I have to take into account. This is the way I learn and absorb information; it just takes me a little more time.”
How important is academic achievement in the BSDH program?
“There are classmates who can skim a chapter in a book and get an A on a test the following day. I would put in all this work, all this effort and wasn’t getting As. But the person who puts in the time, sacrifice and sets their goals might go further than that straight A person. I may not outsmart someone, but I can outwork and out discipline somebody. If I could encourage just one person to know that, to do that, I would. You don’t have to be an academic genius to get to the finish line.” (Krystal surpassed her modest academic goals and was a little surprised to find herself on the Dean’s List.)
What kinds of career doors do you feel the BSDH program will open for you?
“There are jobs like public health, research or data analysist you can get into – all areas of dental hygiene when you have a Bachelor’s degree. The Bachelor’s program will allow me to work in a public health or county health environment. I’m looking at teaching options for didactic or clinical training programs.”
What are your end goals?
“I’ve invested time and money so I want to do the best that I can to make sure this program (BSDH) will set me up to have all the opportunities I’ve set for myself. There were definitely key times before I started the Dental Hygiene program, when I almost gave up. I’d heard one too many ‘noes’’, or things just didn’t go the way I expected. But for me, this has always been the path. I can continue to learn to open more doors and be able to grow within the field and in my profession.”
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.