“In high school, I knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, but didn’t want to go through years of school,” Ashely recalled. After exploring some options, she decided that massage therapy was the right place for her. Her deeply religious family didn’t think that a career as a masseuse was a suitable choice. Once her mom experienced her first massage, she realized that her daughter’s work was healing people.
Ashley loved her career as a massage therapist and had no intention of leaving. However, in her ninth year as a masseuse, she developed arthritis in her hands, which affected her productivity and the number of clients she could treat.
In her early 30s, health concerns forced Ashley to quit work. The arthritis symptoms disappeared shortly after.
While her health was better, she was devastated by having to begin a new career. She still wanted to work in the medical field but didn’t think extensive higher education was her best path.
She researched dental careers. She didn’t know anything about dentistry but felt that it was something she could learn, grow in, and satisfy her calling to help people. A volunteer stint with the Ada Jenkins Dental Clinic and Dental Van validated her intuition. She loved the work!
Staff at the Ada Jenkins Center referred Ashley to Charlotte Area Fund (CAF) for additional training so she could begin the journey to her dentistry career.
Ashley graduated from The Dental Assistant Academy, earning Dental Assistant I, Intraoral Radiography, and Nitrous Oxide Sedation certifications. To ensure that she was ready for her new career, CAF provided her with work clothing, including scrubs and comfortable shoes.
Ashley currently works with Diversified Dental Staffing earning $14 per hour. She likes that she has been able to work at various dental practices and feels that she has gained experience in numerous areas because of the various job assignments.
“I am so thankful to have been blessed by the Charlotte Area Fund with the training opportunity,” said Ashley. “I really like that I can continue to help heal people.”
But she’s not finished yet. Ashley has begun researching dental hygienist programs in the area and hopes to begin studying soon. With a two-year associate’s degree, the average salary for dental hygienists ranges from $65,000 to $68,000 annually.