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Germanna Community College’s Dental Program Spurs New Career Path, Teaching Opportunities

For Delaney Nowotarski and Victoria Dempsey, a career in dentistry wasn’t something either had planned on pursuing. But through the dental program at Germanna Community College, both have found a promising career path, supportive classmates and faculty, and for Nowotarski, an opportunity to return as an instructor after graduating.

“I started my educational career as a biologist,” said Nowotarski. “I went to a four-year college, got my degree in biology, and worked in animal care for six years. Through that experience, I found out that I was missing out on opportunities.”  

Dempsey similarly had other plans before enrolling in the program.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to go into dentistry in the beginning,” she explained. “I was more interested in nursing. But after better understanding that field, I realized it wasn’t for me. It was babysitting my dental hygienists kid at their office where I was really introduced to the profession. I fell in love with it. I began shadowing and eventually assisting her.”

Seamless Transition into the Dental Program

While career transitions can be abrupt for many, both Nowotarski and Dempsey found the change to be quite easy thanks to the faculty and students within the program, as well as the financial assistance through Virginia’s Community College’s G3 Program.

“When I first became a student at Germanna Community College, I felt supported in almost every aspect of my education,” Nowotarksi shared. “I felt as though my fellow classmates supported me, and I did in return. The faculty was always there for me. I never had to actively seek out help, it was always just there, which makes a huge difference.”

“From the beginning, Germanna was really good about helping me get where I wanted to go,” Dempsey added. “I would zoom with the director of the dental program to talk through what all I needed to do each semester to succeed in the program. They really set you up for success. They don’t leave it to you to figure out on your own.”

In addition to the personal support from faculty and students, both found the availability of financial assistance tremendously helpful as they continued their studies in the dental program.

“Through the G3 grant, I was able to come out of Germanna with no debt, which made a huge difference for me and the life of me and my husband,” Nowotarksi said.

“I know a lot of my friends that are going to a four-year college, and they’re going to be in debt. I’m coming out from this program debt-free, and I’m learning the same things and going for the same license that they are,” Dempsey noted.

Life-Changing Opportunity

The impact and opportunities Nowotarski has seen through the program have been nothing short of transformative.

“Coming from someone who attended a four-year college, I think the community college system is undervalued and is something more people should take advantage of,” she concluded. “For me, being a part of the community college system changed my life.”

This feeling has continued into her role as an adjunct instructor.

“As a younger faculty member, I feel like I can connect with my students really well, and I can bring a very fresh perspective. I just love teaching so much.”