The pandemic led Jordan Carpenter to rethink her career goals, inspiring her to apply to the Dental Hygiene Program at Laurel Ridge Community College.
She had been a dental assistant for 15 years, and admits returning to school was daunting at first. Laurel Ridge’s Dental Hygiene Program is a joint venture with Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke.
“It was nerve-wracking because I hadn’t been to school in such a long time and I had to redo so many classes like anatomy and physiology, and I thought, am I too old for this?” said Carpenter. “You know, am I going to be able to do this? But I had so much support coming to school here and figuring out what I needed to do to be able to apply. I’m a little bit older and when it comes to computers, I’ve kind of been left behind just a little bit. I came to campus, and they helped walk me through how to enroll and I signed up for classes and it was very simple.
“I think I’ll always remember the first time I came to campus – I was feeling so intimidated to go back to school and to just walk in. I felt so welcome just coming in the door and meeting the people who work here and are here to support us.”
She was impressed with her instructors and the one-on-one instruction they were able to provide. Additionally, Carpenter said she really bonded with her classmates, who came from a variety of different backgrounds and ages.
Carpenter spoke about the free dental cleanings and exams the students provide to community members.
“There is a state-of-the-art dental clinic right here, and we provided free cleanings to everybody,” she said. “It’s a really great opportunity for people in the community and for the students to grow their skills by working on live patients with all of the tools and technology. Having worked with these newer technologies, I was ready to enter the workforce.”
Several months before her 2022 graduation, Carpenter already had a job lined up at a Winchester practice.
“Laurel Ridge has definitely changed my life,” she said. “I honestly never thought I’d be going back to school at my age and changing my career. It’s opened so many doors for me, and I’m going to be forever grateful to the college.”
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.