The IRC in Atlanta’s Career Development and Adult Education programs, in collaboration with Gwinnett Dental Career Academy (GDCA), recently graduated a second cohort of three former refugees—all young women from Afghanistan—through their Integrated Education and Training (IET) Dental Assistant course, a ten-week program focused on certifying new Americans in dental care and placing them in jobs. The students—most of whom previously took English classes with the IRC—dedicated significant time to learning basic skills in preparation for securing entry-level positions in the dental career pathway, such as sterilization technician, hygiene assistant or chair-side dental assistant.
I believe they are all very well poised for any dental assistant position they apply for in the future and I am immensely proud of all their hard work!
—Sarah Mendes, Adult Education Associate at the IRC in Atlanta
Students enrolled in the IRC’s IET Dental Assistant program receive supplemental support classes through our Adult Education programs throughout the duration of the course. The supplemental instruction, led by Sarah Mendes, Adult Education Associate at the IRC in Atlanta, is a combination of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and the dental assistant curriculum from Gwinnett Dental. Sarah shared, “It was an absolute pleasure working with Nargis, Amina and Atifa during their dental assistant training! The three of them are so incredibly smart and I was amazed by how quickly they picked up all the new material in just ten short weeks. They always came to our review sessions feeling enthusiastic despite juggling their jobs, school and the all-day Saturday dental assistant class. I believe they are all very well poised for any dental assistant position they apply for in the future and I am immensely proud of all their hard work!”
The IRC in Atlanta’s IET program was designed specifically to meet emergent workforce needs—and our Adult Education and Career Development teams partnered to create a course that would provide training to fill those roles with highly qualified new American candidates. Sam Camirand, Career Pathways Specialist at the IRC in Atlanta, shared, “Two clients graduated with honors and all three of them finished with a 90% or higher on their final exam and I believe their success is directly linked to the IET portion and support they received from Sarah.” This program presents not only a solution to the growing labor shortage, but also a vital opportunity for resettled refugees to practice their English while attaining new skills to help them advance their careers.
I want to work in the medical field, it has always been my dream.
—Nargis, IET Dental Assistant graduate
When asked about their experience with the program, students shared, “Ms. Tiffany (of GDCA) pays attention and supports all the students well,” and that “the most helpful part is the support with Sarah.” Student Nargis was evacuated from Afghanistan in August 2021 and welcomed by the IRC in Atlanta under humanitarian parole. “I want to work in the medical field, it has always been my dream,” she shared. The Saturday-only instruction provides the flexibility Nargis and other students need to continue supporting themselves and their families, and tuition support was made possible through Health Fellows funding and the IRC in Atlanta’s Individual Development Account (matched savings) program. With her dental training completed, Nargis plans to apply to Georgia State University in Spring 2023, where two of her IET classmates—Amina and Atifa, both originally from Afghanistan and resettled by World Relief in 2017— are currently studying health sciences, and has already submitted her FAFSA for the 2022-23 school year. She sees her opportunity with dental assisting as the first step toward her dream.
The IRC in Atlanta is currently recruiting for our next cohort of IET Dental Assistant students!
Open to refugees, humanitarian parolees, asylees and SIV recipients who have been in the U.S. for less than five years, the Dental Assistant program is 10 weeks long and classes are on Saturdays from 9am – 5pm. Applicants must hold a high school degree or GED and must be currently employed. Limited scholarships are available, so email Sam Camirand at [email protected] or call 470-510-6190 today to learn more.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Senior Development Manager, Heloise Ahoure, at [email protected] or 678-636-8941.