"Everyone who knows me knows me to be a planner," says Katherine L. John, AAS program in dental hygiene Class of 2012. "In fact, some of my teachers might tell you I'm the most organized, planned-out person they know," she adds with a laugh.
This personality trait has been key to Katherine's success at NYU, since Katherine works by day as a full-time payroll/human resources generalist for Milstein Properties-Milford Consultants in Manhattan, and by night, she is completing her last year in the evening component of the dental hygiene program.
"We have several different tracks in dental hygiene and that's indigenous to NYU," explains Rosemary Hays, clinical associate professor of dental hygiene. "We have the four-year BS degree program, a degree completion program for a bachelor's degree, and a two-year or three-year AAS program. The evening AAS program takes three years but allows students to continue to work in order to help with tuition or other expenses."
Professor Hays interviewed Katherine in 2009, when she was applying to NYU, and has worked with her in the Principles of Dental Hygiene III course. "It impressed me that Katie already had a bachelor's degree in finance and a full-time job, but that she knew she wanted to do something totally different and went for it at a time when the economy was fragile," says Professor Hays. "She's just such a pleasure to have in the program. She's someone who always has a smile on her face and is a very good student."
Katherine, who is originally from the Albany area, moved to New York City right after graduating from Siena College. She landed a job immediately in human resources, but eventually realized that she wanted to switch gears.
"Right now I sit at a desk all day and I enjoy myself, but I am not doing anything for the greater good. I wanted a job where I felt like I was really making a difference. Plus, I'm the type of person who likes to meet new people all day long. Dental hygiene seemed like it would fulfill these goals and also allow me the flexibility to have a family," says Katherine.
After graduation, Katherine and her fiancé, Timothy Adams, DDS '12, whom she met at Siena College, plan to marry. "Tim is going to do an oral surgery residency so I will go wherever his residency program takes him and will try to get a position in dental hygiene or work in finance until I get my dental hygiene license. Eventually, we plan to return to the Albany region."
For anyone, working full-time and going to school is certainly a challenging juggling act. Monday through Friday, Katherine works from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm at Milstein Properties and then attends NYUCD Monday through Thursday, from around 5 pm to 8 pm. "I do a lot of my studying at night, on the weekends, and on my lunch break," says Katherine.
Katherine has especially enjoyed classes in anatomy as well as principles of dental hygiene. "A lot of people in my class are already working in a private practice, and they have this foundation. But for me it's all been new, and I really love learning how to clean teeth, what instruments to use. It's been really exciting."
Besides her knack for being organized, Katherine also cites the close-knit atmosphere of the evening program as something that helps her to maintain focus. "Classes are so small—around 10 of us—and we all really help and support each other. While the work is still rigorous, the teachers in the evening seem laid-back and everyone is very comfortable and personable."
Katherine always thought she wanted to work with children but now that she's had some experience working in a clinic, she's realized that she really likes providing care for middle-aged and elderly patients, too.
"I would like to do a general private practice," she says. "I grew up going to an amazing one and everyone there was like family—they knew your name and everything else about you. It was such a nice environment, and I can really see myself doing that long term."