“Robert Felthousen (left) is among the RCC instructors who “really care about you and want you to learn and grow and succeed,” says Asia Kearney, a graduate of the RCC Dental Assisting program.
Robert Felthousen, lead instructor in the RCC Dental Assistant program, is excited about the six-chair dental assistant lab being installed at RCC’s Riverside Campus. “The new lab will be fantastic,” he said. “We will be able to cover many more procedures and concepts and provide much more hands-on training.”
Felthousen, who began working as a dental assistant in 1999, joined RCC as an instructor in 2001. He also serves as an RCC library assistant, having earned a master’s in library science from the University of Washington. Felthousen earned an Associate of Arts/Oregon Transfer degree at Rogue and a bachelor’s in English at Southern Oregon University.
“First and foremost, I really like working with the students,” he said. “It’s meaningful to me to give someone the tools they need before they set foot into what can be a fast-paced environment.” Program grads especially like the College Work Experience component of the training, he said, and often get jobs at their placement site. “Our role is providing top notch preparation,” Felhousen explained. “We work very hard to create course content covering what they’ll be facing
“Coming to Rogue was the perfect choice for me.”
—Asia Kearney, dental assistant
These days, Asia Kearney works as a dental assistant, a calling she truly enjoys. But when Kearney first enrolled at RCC she wasn’t really sure what career she wanted to pursue.
A 2006 Hidden Valley High School graduate, she decided to enroll at Rogue to take pre-requisite classes and scout employment options. “I chose RCC because it was close to home, and I knew I could have a college experience at RCC and still save a lot of money,” she said. “That was especially important because I was still figuring out what I wanted to do.”
Among the numerous occupations she researched was dental assisting. Kearney “shadowed” a dentist and his team to explore what that line of work was like. “I’m so glad I did,” she recalled. “I would recommend shadowing to anyone who’s not sure. It’s the best way to know if you really want to do that job.”
Kearney opted for the RCC’s Dental Assistant training and began taking a full load of classes while also working as a barista. She earned a 3.75 GPA and earned a one-year dental assistant certificate.
“Coming to Rogue was the perfect choice for me,” Kearney said. “I really loved the teachers at RCC. Robert Felthousen and Terry Miller were especially helpful. They really care about you and want you to learn and grow and succeed. They care about their profession but also make learning upbeat and fun.”
Kearney also appreciated the training format. “I learn best by actually doing things hands on,” she said. “The Dental Assistant program walks you through each step, so the more you practice the better you get.”
RCC’s Tutoring Center was another asset in her training. “I struggled with math, and they helped me pass my classes,” she explained. “Tutors are wonderful and spend time with you until you understand it.”
Kearney, who became the first in her family to complete college, received three RCC Foundation scholarships: the Melba E. Burris Memorial Scholarship; William M. Garrett Memorial Endowed Scholarship; and the Ken Andersen Memorial Endowed Scholarship. “Those were really very helpful,” she noted.
Kearney now works with Dr. Matt Hill, the Grants Pass dentist whose practice she “shadowed.” “This field keeps me growing, and my education never stops,” she said. “There are always new techniques and materials to learn. Helping people and being part of a team is what matters most.”
Kearney loves working with children. “It can be challenging, but when you show them the dentist can be fun, they eventually calm down and start laughing with you.” “I’m so thankful to work in a place I enjoy, with people I love. There’s always variety, so I never get bored,” she said. “And it’s very cool when you are part of the team that gives someone back their smile.”
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