A day in their scrubs

Meet DH2 Michelle Navarro
October 31st, 2022

Right to Left: DH2 Michelle Navarro, Ariella Navarro, and Ezequiel Navarro

Before dental school: I studied at Baylor University in Waco for a year, but then I got homesick. I’m really close to my family and wanted to move back closer to them, so I ended up going to University of Texas at Arlington and now have a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry. I am the first to graduate high school and college in my family.

Tell us more about your family: I am a first-generation Mexican American, my parents are from Puebla, Mexico. I grew up with my parents my whole life, and I’m the oldest of three siblings. I helped them take care of my brother and sister, and the dogs.

I got married in March of 2020, my husband’s name is Ezequiel. He recently got his CDL license to better financially support us while I’m in school. We had to cancel the wedding because of COVID, but we still had a ceremony. I had my first child in October 2020. Her name is Ariella, she just turned 2.

How did you get interested in dental hygiene? I always wanted to be part of the dental field. At first, I thought I wanted to be a dentist, until I started working in a dental office. I realized that’s not what I wanted, and I preferred the dental hygiene track.

I know here we have the SPEP program, and I participated in that when I was in high school. I did that for a couple of years, that also helped me get interested in the dental field.

What made you more interested in dental hygiene than dentistry? I feel like you get to know your patients more and you have the ability to interact with them more. I feel like it’s more of a comfortable environment for you and them. Even being in the dental chair myself I feel a little bit anxious.

I’m more of a calm person and I feel that if I can share that with my patients, that’s a good thing and I want to be able to serve my community. I am bilingual and I see now in clinics that it makes a difference when you’re able to communicate with your patients. I always ask what language they prefer. The majority prefer Spanish, sometimes they don’t understand English as well, but they try their best.

Can you tell us more about raising a child while attending school? I actually started off as a modified student in 2020 and had my child in October of that same year. I was off for six weeks, then I had to play catch-up. But I got through that, you know. I’ve been taking it day by day, year by year.

It was challenging, but at the same time it was my motivation to keep pursuing this career. It’s a daily reminder that I’m doing this for my family. Regardless of the challenges I’m determined to finish my goals. I wanted this before her and I intend to finish.

The first year was through Zoom, with the pandemic. In a way, even though it was challenging, it helped a lot. Now that we’re going in person you have to factor in commuting, which was a challenge, but I ended up moving closer to Dallas to help with that.

I have the support of my husband and my family. Everyone helps.

What advice do you have for current or future dental hygiene students? If you’re interested, seek out information! See if you can shadow a dentist or a dental hygienist and see how the environment is. It’s different and exciting to see all the different procedures that are possible. You learn so much and learn how to provide care when you’re actually in the office, and once you’re in school then it’s not so brand new. You know, you’ve at least heard a little bit and that helps a lot.

— Caleb Vierkant