Smile Power is the new Flower Power
When Jasmine Murguia was a young girl and first got braces on her teeth, she knew the importance of a nice smile. But, it was not until she was crossing the campus of a local community college and spontaneously gave a big smile to a girl as she passed that she found out what that single moment of friendly expression could mean.
“The next day she came up to me and told me she had been thinking of ending her life and that smiling at her changed everything,” says Jasmine. “She was important to me too, because it made me think that a nice smile helps everybody.”
Jasmine had been teetering between getting a degree in Dance or Dental Assisting, and that moment solidified her dental assisting career path.
Time passed slowly as Jasmine strove to complete the necessary DA classes at community college. Then, 3-1/2 years in, the classes she needed to complete her program were cancelled. It was recommended that she complete her studies by taking the necessary classes at Fresno City College.
“I live in Tulare, so that was a horrible idea,” says Jasmine. “I don’t know why they would suggest that.”
She was doing a little venting on Facebook when her Uncle Leonard, who works in Career Services at the SJVC Visalia campus, posted that she should come see him the following day. She did and Leonard introduced her to Amy, an Admissions Representative there.
Jasmine enrolled in the Dental Assisting certificate program that day – and her mom, Christina Zarate enrolled in the Medical Assisting AS degree program at the same time! They were excited that, even though Jasmine would complete her program earlier, they would share the same graduation stage.
SJVC’s DA program was a perfect fit for Jasmine, who especially liked the fast pace.
“Every 5-weeks we had a new class, like Orthodonics; and we got to go to different offices for observations of surgery on patients, like laser surgery where they cut the gums open,” says Jasmine. “I didn’t know we’d get to do all of those things.”
Jasmine’s life as a student was not without hardship. She had a serious bout with kidney stones that put her in the hospital for a day. She was determined to get back to class as soon as possible.
“This happened during finals week, but I only missed one day,” she says. “I made it through finals in pain and on medication. But, I missed my perfect attendance.”
Throughout her DA program Jasmine was working full-time for a pool service company. Fortunately pool service has a seasonal slow-down. “During the winter when it was so cold, I could do homework while at work,” she says.
Her determination served the 22-year old very well. Jasmine maintained a 3.66 GPA and still made time for the Dental Assisting Club, for which she was President, and Event Coordinator responsibilities for ASB.
“Jasmine works hard, never gives up, and is a team player,” says DA Program Director and instructor, Claudia Saucedo. “She is very professional in how she speaks and represents herself.”
When things got tough she would go to a student orientation and lift herself up by encouraging others. Graduation ceremonies reminded her why she was there.
“I went to one of the graduation ceremonies and heard an Honor Roll graduate talk about how he worked full-time, picked up his kids from school then went to school at night,” says Jasmine. I had support and could complete my program without a lot of worries and stress. Everybody has some, but he showed me there’s no excuse; and he inspired me to finish my last month of school.”
Jasmine did finish her DA program. She feels a lot of pride in that accomplishment. Now she is looking for that perfect job that will allow her to help others – especially kids – improve their dental health and appearance.
“A lot of people are self-conscious about their smile,” she says. “And, I know it’s not a complete help for people.”
But, Jasmine knows first-hand that the confidence of a friendly smile can change lives.
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