Pittsburgh Gets Real

6 students graduate from Pitt’s dentistry apprenticeship program

PITTSBURGH — WPXI Gets Real about a program focused on removing barriers for underrepresented minorities.

We first told you last summer about a dentistry apprenticeship program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Now, the program’s first six graduates are going out into the world.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much in my profession and as a person too,” said Laychell Parron. “Today feels almost unreal.”

Parron graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School last year and was excited about the opportunity to get paid for dental assistant training.

Fourteen months later, Parron is done with the program, but she’s not finished at Pitt.

She and two of her classmates are staying on with the university’s dental program, getting their first jobs as dental assistants at the emergency clinic. Her training has inspired her to further her education and become a dental hygienist.

“I feel like it was never in the works. Like without the program,” Parron said. “But I feel like it’s something I didn’t realize I could do, without this program.”

“Our biggest goal in the beginning was to help underrepresented minorities get the opportunity that they never thought was possible and show them that even if you’re a high school graduate and somebody that has had up to nine careers in their life, if you want it, you can achieve it,” instructor Paulette Dietz said.

All six who started the program completed it and 90% of them have passed their certification exams. That success is leading to expansion.

Dietz says the new training model has room for 60 new applicants. They will train for four and then have a one-year contract at an employer-sponsored site.

“This program really showed me that there are other avenues and its not just college. There are other things you can do,” Parron said.

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