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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

DOUBLE PASSIONS: GRAD Valerie Trujillo combines Passion for Caring in a Dental Assisting Career Which Supports Her Artistic Passion for Singing

March 5, 2024

“One feeds the other,” Valerie Trujillo says about her passion for songwriting and singing and her career as a Dental Assistant. “I am what I sing about,” she says when talking about her stage character, Yung Vee. “I go on stage, engage with the crowd, and give love back to those that support our cause.” One cause, for example, was a toy drive sponsored by NO MORE LOCKED DOORS, a non-profit that gives opportunity for people to go after their dreams. Valerie compares that with how she approaches her career as a graduate of the Dental Assisting program from the SJVC campus in Temecula. “At first, I wanted to be a counselor or social worker, but my heart was too sympathetic and the stress and trauma weren’t for me. I needed another career where you could still help people in a community who are in need.”

The Dental Assisting work gives Valerie the inspiration and the energy by helping others and it provides the monetary means to pursue her other passion: singing, writing her own music, and performing. Singing, Valerie says, comes from the same place as the joy she gets from working as a Dental Assistant; the desire to help others. Her career as a Dental Assistant also affords her the opportunity to pursue her art. Having already worked with different producers, Valerie has found the perfect combo: connecting to people as she is paid to give good dental health to her patients, and reaching others through her art, performing and singing her own story through her own music.


Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Los Angeles, but I was raised all over California in cities like Salinas, San Diego, and when I was about 15, we moved to Menifee, a town close to Temecula. Mom and Dad did everything to give us the very best childhood they could. I have an older brother and a little sister.


How did you decide to pursue a career as a Dental Assistant?

I was exhausted by working regular jobs; first, I worked at a warehouse for long hours into the night, and then at Ross Dress for Less. I was working as a cashier clerk for Ross Dress for Less one day when I was cashing out a customer, and I remember I looked at her receipt and realized she had spent my whole paycheck at that one store! I asked her “What do you do?” She replied she was a Dental Assistant. That stuck with me. I came home, went online and applied for SJVC’s Dental Assisting program. I immediately got a text message from Ana, one of SJVC’s admissions advisors. So, I went to the campus to sit down and talk to her. She helped me look at myself, my natural abilities and my desire to succeed, and confirmed that Dental Assisting was a good fit for me, so I signed up.


When did you start and when did you graduate?

I started on October 31, 2022 and graduated in September 2023. The graduation ceremony is Feb. 16, 2024.


I understand you’re the first person in your family to graduate from college?

Yes. My little sister has watched how hard I’ve worked and that I got a job in the field I studied for. I’m encouraging her to enroll in SJVC too and get an education so she can get a better job. Growing up, I was taught to “Lead by Example.” I hope I’m doing that for her.

How did you know you wanted to be a singer?

I always had a passion for writing poetry. I was always writing about my life. Then I listened to a bunch of musical artists from the 80’s and ‘90’s: a lot of rappers, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and they were always singing about their lives too. Bob Marley was my biggest inspiration because of what he stood for – always singing about standing up for what is right, having a voice, and speaking for people who are struggling. From poems I eventually starting telling my own story through songwriting. Even in my work as a Dental Assistant, I help people by making them feel comfortable enough to express how they feel, tell me their stories and what they are going through.


How is the music side of your life going?

I’m working with one producer right now and I’m learning how to collaborate on building the songs. I was playing the piano waiting for this other musician to show up, and he said, “I like that melody you got there.” He started adding beats to it, you know like sampling, and then I said “why don’t you try it in this tempo,” and once we got the beat we added vocals. It was really creative!


What can you tell others who are looking to study for a career at SJVC?

Keep learning about yourself and don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new. You’re not going to get it the first time but it doesn’t hurt to keep trying. Be Patient. And stick to it!


Sounds like you are on your way. Congratulations for figuring out how to enjoy both your career and your artistic side at the same time!

Thank you.

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