Emma James has found a career close to home, thanks in part to IGNITE DAVIE College Promise.
Born and raised in Davie County, she graduated from Davie High in 2021, Davidson-Davie Community College through IGNITE DAVIE in Spring 2022, and immediately went to work as a Dental Assistant 2 at Hillsdale Dental in Advance.
IGNITE DAVIE is a place-based last-dollar scholarship, meaning students must live in and attend school in Davie County. All eligible high school graduates, regardless of financial need or academic ability, can continue their education and training to open the door to better career opportunities and increased earning potential.
During the year-long program, James spent eight months in the classroom and the last four months completing two eight-week clinical rotations. Hillsdale Dental was her first, and she bonded with the staff immediately, staying in touch during her second rotation. She was thrilled to get a job offer from them as soon as she graduated. A year later, she still loves her job.
Like most dental assistants, James calls patients and sets up appointments, explains procedures, assists the dentist with patient care, and cleans up the exam room. But as a Certified Dental Assistant 2, she is also legally allowed to take X-rays, clean children’s teeth, place sealants, monitor nitrous oxide sedation, and assist with core buildups, a restorative dental procedure that involves replacing missing tooth structure with a special filling material. The accreditations she’s earned through DDCC’s dental assistance program make her a highly valuable employee.
“Emma was the first DDCC student to do their clinical rotation with us, and she immediately meshed with our staff. They all loved her and begged us to hire her,” said Dr. Adam Dorsett. “DDCC offers one of the best dental assistant programs out there, and the students graduate with the skills needed to hit the ground running.”
Dr. Dorsett shared that Hillsdale Dental recently hired its second assistant from the program.
He remembers when DDCC President Dr. Darrin Hartness called him and told him that the college was adding a dental assistant program and asked for his help.
“We immediately agreed to be a training ground and a place for job shadowing. He was also the one who told me about IGNITE DAVIE, which I thought was a great opportunity for the kids of Davie County.”
Over the years, Hillsdale Dental has offered job shadowing opportunities for countless Davie High and DDCC students. Some classes at the high school require students to shadow a medical professional, and ten hours of job shadowing is a prerequisite for enrollment in the dental assistant program.
Also a financial supporter of IGNITE DAVIE, he encourages all businesses to support and get involved with both DDCC and IGNITE DAVIE.
“As an employer, it has been great. We’ve gotten to meet lots of different people and have benefited directly from the program.”
“Emma has a bright future in dentistry, and IGNITE DAVIE gave her a great step up toward her dental career by removing financial hurdles from her education.”
With Dr. Dorsett’s encouragement, James is studying to become a dental hygienist. The program isn’t offered at DDCC, so she is responsible for paying for her own tuition, fees, and books. The expense has caused her to appreciate the IGNITE DAVIE program even more.
“Going to school is expensive, but because of IGNITE DAVIE, I didn’t have to worry about student loans or if the career I wanted was feasible for my family. Not having to worry about money meant I was able to fully focus on studying for my classes.”
“I would tell any student to take advantage of this opportunity to go to community college for two years without a financial burden,” said James. “A lot of students don’t even know what they want to do, so finding out at community college is a lot easier on the brain and the wallet. They can always transfer to a four-year university later.”
She is grateful to all of the people who have made IGNITE DAVIE possible. “Thank you, you opened up a doorway I didn’t know I had.”
Emma James is one of the many students within our community who have benefited from IGNITE DAVIE, but none of this would be possible without you. IGNITE DAVIE benefits more than high school seniors, it benefits you. Once it’s permanently endowed, it will benefit business owners, teachers, parents of elementary schoolers, grandparents, students who want to work with their hands, first-generation college students, and students who want to attend a 4-year university— in some way or another, it benefits our entire community!
To make IGNITE DAVIE sustainable, the Davie Community Foundation is helping to raise the final $1 million of the $3 million endowment goal. Once achieved, the endowment will provide annual earnings to cover program costs indefinitely.
To add your support, visit DavieFoundation.org/donate and select IGNITE DAVIE from the dropdown list.