Jhonatan’s Story: A university experience to smile about
How a Goodwin Dental Hygiene graduate made his career goals a crowning achievement
Economic crisis leads to an educational climb
In 2009, Jhonatan Rodriquez lost his job due to the Great Recession. He was tagged as a “dislocated worker” by the state’s Department of Labor, and a year after that, his first marriage had come to an end.
At that point, Jhonatan knew there was nowhere to go but up.
“I told myself that I was going to do what I wanted to do since I came to this country from Venezuela in 2000,” Jhonatan stated, “I was going to go to college in the United States of America.”
At that time, Jhonatan’s daughter, Michelle, was only four-years-old, and he was a hard-working, hopeful parent. Although attending college represented a challenge, Jhonatan didn’t let doubts get in the way of creating a future for his family.
Jhonatan heard about Goodwin University by word of mouth. After listening to several people share their positive experiences, he searched online and saw the school’s YouTube video for the Dental Hygiene program.
Intrigued by the thought of seeing people smile every day, Jhonatan felt energized and ready to start on the educational path he had pondered for years.
After scheduling a tour of Goodwin’s Dental Hygiene facility, he noted that “everything was brand new.” After the visit, he was even more interested in the program and enrolled as a student shortly after.
Educators that promote purpose
While attending Goodwin, “the professors demanded my best and encouraged me never to stop learning,” Jhonatan emphasized. “They pushed me to do better and to get the best out of my experience.”
“The Dental Hygiene program empowered students to use science-based knowledge,” Jhonatan related. “They educated us on the proper use of instrumentation and encouraged us to provide the best cleanings. They made sure you knew how to apply your knowledge and adapt to each patient. We were advised to make sure we knew about products before recommending them, and to truly know our clients before recommending their care.”
“My first language is Spanish,” Jhonatan revealed, “so going back to school was demanding for me. Writing papers took me more time than others, but the professors pushed and helped me a lot. They made sure that I could go out there and have all the tools, knowledge, and skills to succeed in the real world.”
Preparing for a variety of patients
The Goodwin training center proved equipped with everything Jhonatan needed to practice his profession.
“Everything was spot on,” he pointed out. “We had the machines to clean our tools, x-ray technology, everything we needed to take care of our patients. The chairs and lights were brand new, too — whatever you needed, it was always there, and that equipment knowledge and practice gave students like me an edge in the field.”
“Goodwin also put us in diverse scenarios,” he expressed gratefully.
During numerous hours of hands-on practice in community clinical rotations, “we had to develop habits as a patient educator,” he shared. “Everything has to be customized for each patient, and there are many factors involved — age, culture, habits, and more. They sent us to Hartford and different clinics to apply what we had learned in class. There were people of all backgrounds there — social, cultural, and economical. They sent us to elementary schools and high schools to teach kids about oral hygiene, and each exposure helped us out a lot,” Jhonatan recollected.
A personable profession
“I like this profession because I get to see patients every day, build personal relationships, and help people achieve certain goals and solve problems in their lives,” Jhonatan described with pride.
“When you build rapport and make connections with patients, you can help them better. I always try to make a joke at the beginning of the appointment to break the ice. Then, I try to understand their culture, where they are from, and what they do for a living. Many of my patients see me as a friend, and earning their trust is key in my time with them,” he explained.
“Some time ago, I completed treatment on a patient. Once I was finished, to my surprise, she started to cry and sobbed, ‘Nobody has ever explained what I have to do for better oral hygiene, and nobody has ever spent this much time on my teeth cleaning them this way. I have never felt my teeth so smooth,’ and moments like that encourage me to educate my patients every day,” Jhonatan detailed.
Reaching new heights with Dental Hygiene
After two years of study, Jhonatan discovered that he had passed his Dental Hygiene National Board Exams by mail while he was at home. The first person he rushed to tell was his wife, Teresa, and his daughter, Michelle.
“A couple of tears came down, and it was a very happy moment,” Jhonatan laughed.
“The Dental Hygiene program was challenging, but beautifully rewarding. Goodwin helped me and pushed me in every way to reach my goals. I am now part of a passionate profession where I can communicate with a variety of people every single day, listen to their stories, and learn about their lives.”
“My education gave me a ladder to reach higher, and I love my new career. I am very thankful for Goodwin; it was the best investment I could have ever made,” Jhonatan added.
Learn more about earning your Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene at Goodwin University.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.