Aiken Technical College
"Since classes are small, everybody gets to know each other. We'll get together to study and help each other out. It's amazing and I really enjoy that."
My name is Alexandria Wilson and I’m in the Expanded-Duty Dental Assistant program at Aiken Technical College. An Expanded-Duty Dental Assistant is able to do more than a regular Dental Assistant without having the dentist in the room.
I was born in Augusta, Georgia, but I came to Aiken when I was around nine years old, and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve wanted to be a dental hygienist since I was little. There was one time I went to the dentist, and I thought the lady who was cleaning my teeth was really nice and cool. I asked what she went to school for, and I started asking her questions about dental hygiene. I was like, “I want to do that. That sounds nice.” I don’t want to say I like teeth, but I like learning about it, and I like smiles.
How did you decide Aiken Technical College was the right choice for you?
The only program that I knew about was at Midlands Tech, but my dad told me to check out Aiken Tech first to get some experience in the Dental Assistant program, then move into the Dental Hygiene program. The Hygiene program is very, very hard to get into because of how complex it is. He was like, “Just go get some experience and see if you like it before you hop into something that is very competitive and extremely hard.”
What did you know about Aiken Technical College before you came here?
My dad actually went here, and he got his degree in industrial maintenance. Pretty much everybody that I know either went here or either graduated from here. The majority of my graduating high school class was going to Aiken Tech. We all knew Aiken Tech was a very good school, and even if you ended up going to a four-year college, you could still get all your pre-reqs out of the way.
How has your classroom experience been?
I’ve always had small classes at Aiken Tech. I didn’t feel lost or like I couldn’t speak up. I felt very comfortable and really enjoyed my pre-req classes.
I’ve actually met a few friends here just by having classes with them. Since classes are small, everybody gets to know each other, and I really enjoy my classmates. We stay after class, and we’ll get together to study. For example, when we have a test the next day, we’ll get on Zoom and stay up studying together.
We get things done together and help each other out. When somebody doesn’t know something, we’ll stay behind or stay on the phone and teach them. I really enjoy that and it’s amazing because you don’t expect to get that. You think people will try to be in competition with you.
What have you learned about yourself?
I don’t enjoy book work! I’m better at actually doing stuff than actually looking at a book and learning it. I learned that if somebody shows me something, I can do it.
Has anything surprised you about your experience?
Yes! I didn’t know there was so much to learn about teeth, and it’s very interesting to me.
We were learning a procedure — composite and amalgam, which is fillings — and we had to do it as if we were doing it in a real office with a real dentist. I did so well, I just shocked myself. At first, when we were just practicing, I was struggling a little bit. When I actually went in to do the test, I didn’t have any problems. I didn’t think it would come so easy to me.
There’s also a really specific way to do dental assisting. You’ll be passing instruments and materials for the dentist, but you have to know what you’re doing. There’s a certain way you have to pass stuff, a certain amount of material you have to get. It’s more complex than what people think.
Why is it important to you to be in college?
My mother and my grandmother both died from breast cancer, and I have a really high chance of getting it, too. I’ve been working through that and taking it day by day. I want to enjoy my life. That’s why when I finish and graduate, I want to move to a bigger city — I was thinking about Columbus, Ohio.
I just want to be on my own, explore different places, and enjoy my life. When you’re young, you see how people are living their life in big cities and stuff on TV. You just look at that and think, “Wow, I want to do that.” Well, when I graduate, I’ll be able to actually do that. I can get up and just move and support myself as a Dental Assistant.