For this First-Generation Student, Dentistry is a Way to Give Back To Her Community

Esmerelda Fernandez wants to use what she’s learned in CNM’s Dental Assistant program to help raise awareness about the importance of oral hygiene
February 07, 2023

Esmerelda Fernandez grew up in Dulce, which is located on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Northern New Mexico. She’d always wanted to give back to her hometown and saw her chance when she identified the lack of resources available to young people with regard to oral hygiene. 

“I was walking around Dulce and saw just how many young kids were struggling with their oral hygiene,” Esmerelda says. “After that, I looked through CNM’s catalog and decided the dental assistant program was for me.”

Esmerelda moved to Albuquerque specifically to attend CNM and is now in her second term of the Dental Assistant Certificate.

As an adult learner and first-generation student she was nervous about going to college. But she immediately found support at CNM.

“College can be a scary word and it’s easy to question if you really belong,” Esmerelda says. “CNM isn’t that way, though. The staff are so helpful and there are so many resources available, like loaner laptops and financial aid. Plus, the small class sizes make it a more personal experience.” 

During school Esmerelda has traveled back to Dulce between terms to raise awareness and share resources about dental hygiene with the community she loves. After completing her Dental Assistant certificate, Esmerelda plans to become a dental hygienist so she can expand her knowledge and continue to better serve the community for years to come. 

"I'm working really hard to help my community and I'm excited to have found a spot where I can make a difference," she says.