From Plague to Peace
Monica moved here in 2003 from Zacatecas, Mexico at 11 years old. She recalls starting school in October and was told that she needed to get shots and a physical for school registration. This is the first time that she learned about Maple City Health Care Center. She was able to get established as a patient here and got all the necessary medical requirements for school.
She recalls always being obsessed with teeth. Since the 3rd grade, Monica remembers asking for braces, but not being able to get them. One of her first memories of a dental clinic in the US was an integrated clinic in South Bend. She remembers how cool it was to have a medical office and a dental clinic in the same building. She was determined to make it her purpose to become a dentist and be a part of something similar. Monica had no idea the obstacles she was about to face to achieve her dream.
In 2009, Monica started visiting colleges and looking at the different dental programs. Reality started to set in that it wasn’t just going to be the traditional 4 years. She also figured out that she wasn’t going to receive financial aid for the additional years of schooling she would need. Monica then learned that there were other careers in the dental field such as dental hygienist.
By 2010, she started college and immediately learned the struggles of being an undocumented student. There were no loans available for Monica or her parents to get. She also continued school knowing that she would graduate but be unable to obtain a license without documentation.
Monica quickly got a job at a factory working full-time and going part-time to IUSB and Ivy Tech. During the summer, she worked two jobs so she could keep up with school tuition. At the time, undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition, which was higher. She felt like it was a slap in the face to be living here but paying more money. Monica questioned continuing her schooling in a country that was making it so hard for her.
Thankfully for Monica, DACA was passed in the summer of 2012, which made things a bit easier for her to continue attending school as well as being able to travel to Mexico and return without any issues. By the last year of school, she had already received a social security number, but it didn’t change anything for her since she was already used to working to pay for her tuition all the other years.
Monica married her husband in 2018 and he was able to immediately petition for her. She received her residency in April 2019. This meant that she was now able to receive financial assistance for continued schooling. She had a Maple City employee, Susana, reach out to her about working here. Monica didn’t know that they had dental already in the works. She began working here as soon as Maple City Dental opened in January 2021. She now returned to work at a clinic that she was a patient of and now resembling the integrated model that she found so fascinating as a child. Monica feels like Maple City has been a huge part of every milestone along the way.
After researching dental schools and all that was required, Monica registered and just completed her first semester for pre-requisites. Monica and her husband now have two children, ages 2 and 1. So not only is she working full-time but also part of raising two small children and completing courses! Monica feels happy with her life as a wife, mom, and dental hygienist, so she often wonders if it is even worth it to pursue being a dentist. Then she looks back at all she has overcome and thinks of the time she received a “sign” from God to keep going. Her perseverance is truly remarkable. She realizes she still has about 2 years before being able to apply for a dental program but has a very supportive family on both sides. Monica says, “nothing is stopping me now!”