The IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program is significantly impacting local students’ lives, providing them with the opportunity to pursue higher education and successful careers. Two shining examples of the program’s success are Antonia Montano and Hannah Morgan, who earned their Dental Assistant accreditation through the IGNITE DAVIE program at Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC). Dr. Andrew Rivers swiftly hired both at Rivers Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, where they have been eager to contribute to the local practice.
Montano’s introduction to IGNITE DAVIE came from her guidance counselor in 2020, during her senior year at Davie County High School, as the program first started. Morgan learned about IGNITE DAVIE from a counselor that same year, her junior year. What intrigued them both was the prospect of a full ride for an associate’s degree, with the flexibility to transfer to a four-year college afterward.
Morgan shared her excitement, stating, “I learned that I could get a full ride for an associate’s degree, and I could transfer to a four-year college after that. I would just save a lot of money in the long run.”
Montano initially pursued nursing at DDCC but later discovered her passion for dental assisting. “I had started my prerequisites for nursing, but I slowly realized I wasn’t passionate about it,” Montano explained. “I talked to my advisor at DDCC and told her I wanted to stay in the medical field, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. She suggested dental assisting, so I just jumped into it and ended up enjoying the program.”
They completed their initial prerequisites and dental coursework, undergoing two clinical rotations, a vital component of the DDCC dental assistant program. Montano reflected on her initial glimpse into the clinical setting, “Once you walked into the clinical area, it was a feeling of ‘Oh, this is the real deal.’” Both students appreciated the hands-on experience, with Morgan noting, “I liked that the program really prepared you for the work field.”
Montano felt the clinical practice assured her dentistry was a good fit, noting – “I really enjoyed sterilization at the time. Packaging the instruments, loading them up, and starting the Autoclave really excited me.”
The clinical rotations equipped them with practical knowledge. “Instead of just learning a routine of what the doctor wants, you learned what that routine was for,” Morgan explained. Dr. Rivers agreed, stressing the importance of dental staff understanding why procedures are done, not just how they are administered.
During their rotations, Montano was placed at Dr. Rivers’ office in Mocksville and Hillsdale Dental in Advance, while Morgan started at Mocksville Dentistry and later joined Dr. Rivers. Both spoke highly of the program’s commitment to placing students based on their interests, in this case, in either ortho or general dentistry.
Montano commended the instructors at DDCC, stating, “They won’t stop working until you have a job,” emphasizing the program’s dedication to finding the right fit for each student. This commitment extends beyond graduation, with instructors staying in contact with graduates to facilitate job placement.
For Montano and Morgan, the rotations at Dr. Rivers Dentistry left a lasting impression. They praised the positive environment, supportive staff, and Dr. Rivers’ dedication to teaching. Both emphasized Dr. Rivers’ patience and willingness to explain procedures.
Hiring IGNITE DAVIE graduates was seamless for Dr. Rivers, who attested to the students’ readiness and confidence after their 8-week rotations.
“Students come in and work with me chair-side, learning the flow of the dental practice, working with the staff, the patients, myself. It’s a great program – you can do a didactic class and learn with books how to do something, but when you’re actually chairside with the doctor and patient, it’s incredible how much more you learn,” he explained.
Based on the exposure and experience Morgan and Montano gained during their rotations, they were hired within a week after graduation.
As certified Dental Assistants 2 (DA2), Montano and Morgan are licensed with a more comprehensive skill set. As DA2s, they can take X-rays, administer coronal polishing, place sealants, and use a tofflemire, a device that assists the dentist in placing a filing. Both Morgan and Montano commented on the strength of the DDCC programming, noting that other shorter, local programs may equip graduates with only a DA1.
Both plan to further their education by pursuing careers in dental hygiene, requiring an additional two to three years of schooling and licensure. As hygienists, they would be licensed to administer dental care and clean teeth instead of solely assisting the dentist.
Dr. Rivers expressed his admiration for the students DDCC produces. “I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the students coming through this program. Not just their ability to learn, but their attitude and the work ethic has always been impressive,” he said.
“I was awestruck when I heard about the IGNITE DAVIE program. – I mean, what an amazing thing to have in this county that essentially any public school student can get a free college education and get plugged into the trade they would enjoy. I would think it has to be very beneficial to the economy of this county,” he shared.
The success stories of Montano and Morgan stand as a testament to the transformative power of IGNITE DAVIE, lighting the way for future generations in Davie County to realize their educational and career aspirations.
“It’s a great program. It’s good for employers, and it’s good for the students going through it. This seems like a nice symbiotic relationship where people can find good careers within their own community,” shared Dr. Rivers.
Antonia Montano and Hannah Morgan are two of the many students within our community who have benefited from IGNITE DAVIE, but none of this would be possible without you. IGNITE DAVIE not only provides financial support for students but also fosters an environment where students grow, learn, and quickly become self-sufficient in their chosen fields. IGNITE DAVIE benefits more than high school seniors; it benefits you. Once it’s permanently endowed, it will help business owners, teachers, parents of elementary schoolers, grandparents, students who want to work with their hands, first-generation college students, and students who wish 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 $123,882 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.