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Samantha Johnson Dental Hygiene Sp17   01 WEB

OTC dental grad earns three degrees in five years

The term “triple threat” is typically associated with a football player who can run, pass and kick, or a performer who can sing, act and dance. But those who know OTC graduate Sami Johnson would say she’s a triple threat in her own right. The 23-year-old has earned not one, not two, but three healthcare degrees, and she’s done it all in just five years.

Sami’s initial college plan did not involve earning three degrees. The Columbia, Mo. native originally came to Springfield to earn a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University. However, Sami quickly found herself drawn to a career in the dental field.

“I remember looking up Missouri dental programs, and I was shocked to find two programs just a mile away from me at OTC,” she recalled.

Sami decided to apply for both, and she was first accepted into the college’s dental assisting program. However, as Sami prepared to graduate from the program two years later, she realized her academic journey wasn’t quite finished. She applied for the college’s dental hygiene program and could barely contain her excitement when she received her acceptance letter.

“It’s always been my dream to work as a dental hygienist in a private office,” Sami explained.

While she worked toward her dental assisting and dental hygiene degrees at OTC, Sami discovered a complementary bachelor’s degree at Missouri State. The university’s Health Services degree program was designed to prepare students with associate degrees in allied health fields for future leadership and administrative roles in health care.

“I knew I had to go for it,” Sami explained. “With all three of my degrees, I could easily take on an administrative role in a dental office as well.”

To further boost her resume and credentials, Sami served as class president for OTC’s dental hygiene program. She also worked in the college’s call center as a work study student.

“The hardest part was maintaining a schedule and staying organized,” Sami explained. “Within each of my programs, I had to meet certain requirements. I was lucky to work with some incredible instructors who helped me along the way, but at the end of the day, it all fell on me to get it done.”

Despite the stress of juggling multiple degree programs, extracurricular duties and a part-time job, Sami said she feels nothing but pride when she reflects on her college career.

“The best part of my journey so far has been looking back on all I’ve accomplished. I still can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done,” she said. “These programs are so challenging, and it’s such a reward to reach my final goal.”

Sami added that her favorite part of dental hygiene school was building relationships with patients.

“We’ve been seeing patients for the past year, and it’s so exciting to watch their oral heath improve over time,” she said. “I love that I get to use my hands to make people feel and look better. Creating brighter smiles is so rewarding.”

Prior to graduation, Sami accepted a job at a dental office in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Her husband, Brad, is an anesthesiologist assistant student at the University of Missouri Kansas City. The two married on May 28, 2017.

“I was so happy to find a job before I graduated,” Sami said. “I start today, June 1, and I’m pretty excited. This is what I’ve worked so hard for.”

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