Class of 2020
Hostos graduate Laura Segura earned her dentistry degree in Mexico before immigrating to the United States eight years ago. Upon her arrival, she looked forward to continuing to practice dentistry, but quickly learned that obtaining an American license would be a long and challenging process. While applying to dental programs, Laura worked as a dental assistant. Over time, her hope to practice dentistry at a higher level diminished. She felt stuck in her job as an assistant and was struggling to make any progress toward her dentistry license – despite her previous training, she would have to complete a master’s degree before she could even apply to a dental school. She knew that earning a dental hygiene degree would expand her options, but she had not found a program that she liked – until she heard about Hostos.
Now a proud graduate of the Hostos dental hygiene program, Laura has the fulfilling career she desired and plans to take her education even further.
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Ms. Segura conducted by Alumni Relations Manager Félix Sánchez. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Q & A
What makes you feel proud to be a Hostos graduate?
When I decided to become a dental hygienist, I knew I wanted to study at Hostos because of its ranking as one of the best dental hygiene programs in New York. Because of its strong reputation, the fact that I was able to get into the program made me feel proud. Now that I have graduated from Hostos, I feel assured that the program has prepared me well. At my new job, I can apply all the knowledge and training my professors gave me. It is nice to see patients leave their appointments happy and to have your work acknowledged.
I am especially proud to be a part of the resilient class of 2020. The pandemic has made graduating and obtaining a dental hygiene license more challenging, but I am blessed and thankful to say that I am already working with a temporary license as a dental hygienist. A faculty member referred me to a dentist who was willing to sponsor me, so I began working in their office in May 2020 as a dental assistant while my licensure process was moving forward. This opportunity has been such a blessing because it has allowed me and the doctor to get to know and trust each other while working together. When my license came in July 2020, I knew my faith had led me to the right place. I am very proud to be a Hostos graduate.
What challenges did you experience while studying at Hostos and how did you overcome them?
How were you empowered by those experiences?
I faced many challenges during my time at Hostos. My first challenge was balancing my full-time job and my pre-requisite classes. Due to my work schedule, my availability to register for classes was limited. I was grateful that Hostos had plenty of options and times available to schedule my classes so that I was able to finish my pre-requisites and still work.
However, the biggest challenge I faced while studying at Hostos was that one week before I started the dental hygiene program, I found out I was pregnant – oh boy! I still remember that day. I did not know what to do or how to proceed. It was not in my plans to be pregnant while I was in the program; I knew it is very demanding. I remember speaking to Joy Pérez, who works in the administrative office for the Allied Health Department, and she calmed me down and gave me the confidence to keep moving forward with my dream. I am not going to lie, being pregnant while in college is not easy at all, but it was such a great experience. I learned to face my fears and overcome many challenges that made me stronger and more resilient.
I appreciate that Hostos offers its students so many support services, like the food pantry, counseling center, writing center, etc. It was reassuring that I always received emails and messages from the school offering different ways to help students. I think these are great tools for anyone who might be facing difficulties.
Who are you inspired by?
I am inspired by every single immigrant who, like myself, has crossed over to this country. We have different stories, but we want to make a difference in this country. When I began my studies at Hostos, I already had my degree from my country; yet I had to start from zero at Hostos. I am inspired by the many professionals who have come and studied again to be able to work in their profession. I am inspired by all those parents who did not have the opportunity to study a profession but who work so hard to provide a better life and future for their families.
Most importantly, I rely deeply on my faith. My experience at Hostos was so intense, demanding, fulfilling and delightful. I decided to trust in my faith, and I allowed that to guide me. Additionally, my family, my daughter and my dreams help me to move forward. I consider myself a dreamer. I am constantly looking for new ways or methods to improve.
What motivates you most? What are your goals going forward?
At this moment, the fact that I graduated from a challenging program inspires me to move forward and keep learning and growing, personally and professionally. I want to continue with my studies and obtain a master’s in public health. I want to help my community by empowering them with oral hygiene education with a specific focus on special needs populations.
What advice would you give a current student to help them be successful?
Trust in your faith for the spiritual guidance you want and trust the process. It helped me greatly to remember that, in my faith, the timing of God is perfect. This was such a powerful thought that allowed me to move forward. I am a natural planner, so I wanted everything perfect and aligned when I was ready. But life taught me that if I lose myself a little and if I trust my faith, everything will just move and align itself in place. Be humble and receptive to learning.
It is also important to take one step at a time. When things get tough, focus on moving forward one class at a time, one semester at a time. We eat the whole cake in small bites – not all at once. Surround yourself with good friends who support you and create a network to help each other. The competition is with you – not with anyone else. And most importantly, remember to take time for yourself and your family. You need a great support system to hold you through the process, so take the time to keep it strong.