Ohio State Dental Journal

New Dental Hygiene Students Begin Their Journey

Jessica Carder

Jessica Carder

For Jessica Carder, coming to the College of Dentistry to pursue a dental hygiene degree was an easy decision. She wanted to enter a program where she could obtain a Bachelor’s degree in her chosen field while also pursuing her long-time dream of becoming a cheerleader for the Buckeyes.  Now, she is pursing both of her dreams

Born and raised in the small southeastern, Ohio village of New Concord, Carder comes from a family of dental professionals.  Her great uncle, Tom Gillespie, DDS graduated from the College of Dentistry in 1974. In addition, her mother is a dental assistant and introduced Jessica to the dental hygiene profession.

“I absolutely loved being in the dental office,” said Carder, who observed dental hygienists at work during a job shadowing visit with her mother.  “I liked that the hygienist has an independent job when the dentist is out of the room.  The hands-on work drew me in as well.”

Although she realizes that juggling her studies with her busy cheerleading schedule will be a challenge, Carder is excited about the year ahead and is looking forward to someday working with young children and patients with periodontal disease.  “I can tell already that it is going to be an exciting year,” said Carder.  “I have already learned so much and I am excited to learn even more!

Veronica Harris

Veronica Harris

For Veronica Harris, a career as a dental hygienist will be a second and completely different career than her first job as juvenile counselor.  After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from California State University East Bay, the Oakland, California native was laid off from her job and decided she needed a change in direction.  Like Carder, Harris gained inspiration from a family member who works in the dental field—her identical twin, who is a certified dental assistant.

“I always wanted to help people and I was interested in a career that was more stable,” said Harris, who has a nine-year-old son, Lorenzo.  “I shadowed a dental hygienist and I knew that is what I wanted to do.” 

Harris chose Ohio State’s College of Dentistry because it is a Bachelor’s degree program and because wanted to learn how to work as a team with dental students. She felt her previous degree and prerequisite program prepared her for the rigorous program.  Nevertheless, she admits that it took a few weeks to adjust. “I never took so many classes at once!” said Harris. “It took me a week or two to get adjusted. At the same time, I was ecstatic to meet other students interested in becoming a hygienist.”

Harris, who is a first generation college graduate, plans to obtain a Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene, become an educator, and also work in a private clinic. 

Follow Jessica and Veronica throughout their journey at the College of Dentistry!  We will continue to share each student’s challenges, triumphs, and unique experiences as their stories unfold on the road to graduation. Stay tuned!