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Meredith ManleyMeredith Manley plans to combine dental assisting and world service

Meredith Manley was inspired to pursue a career in the medical field after serving on church missions in the Philippines and Romania.

Now she’s about to achieve her goal by earning a dental assistant certificate from Rogue Community College.

“My experience at RCC has been great,” said Manley, who was recognized April 18 at RCC’s Honors Night as the outstanding dental assistant graduate. “The Dental Assisting program is amazing. Their goal is to make great — not just good — assistants.”

Manley was first motivated to become a dental assistant at age 14 when she went to Romania as part of a church mission. She assisted a dental hygienist who encouraged her to enter the field. Then she travelled twice to the Philippines with a medical team that helped residents at a government safe house for sexually abused girls ages 7-19.

Now 19, Manley selected RCC because it offered dental assisting program and because her aunt is a college administrator here. The oldest of eight children, Manley grew up in rural Idaho where the nearest big town, Lewiston, was 1 and 1/2 hours away. The family homestead was “off the grid,” so Manley and her siblings are homeschooled.

“Overall my parents did very well in balancing homeschooling and learning how to live an ‘outside life’ with things like respect for others.” When she started classes at RCC, she had to make some adjustments, “but I felt well prepared for college,” Manley said.

“The dental assisting program was more challenging than I’d expected — hard but not impossible. You have to be motivated,” she explained. “The instructors are fabulous,” she added. “They really care about students and go out of their way to help us. Their real-world experience benefits the program a lot.”

Because staying debt free while attending school was among Manley’s goals, she’s worked 40-45 hours a week throughout her studies. She is a student services assistant with the RCC Counseling Department on the Riverside Campus, and she works at a White City dental office.

Although she will receive a certificate in June, Manley plans to continue her studies and complete an Associate of General Studies degree. And her future likely holds more mission work.

“I would love to join something like Mercy Ships,” she said. “Dental assisting is a great job,” said Manley, “but even more important is being able to serve others.”

Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Atana Morell