May 27, 2023

“With a college education, you’re learning skills of all kinds–people skills, life skills– to become a well-rounded person. Education can give you that, and it’s something that no one can take away from you. I appreciate my education.”

Century College Dental Hygiene alum (and 2023 Outstanding Student) Pa Vang is a firm believer in the power of life-long education. It’s a value that her parents instilled in her from a young age. A first-generation college graduate, Pa is a hard worker, ambitious, and passionate about learning. “We’re all life-long learners. There’s never a right time to stop learning!” Pa adds.

Pa has been in school–off and on–since 2005, earning her undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus and her Master’s in Elementary Education from Hamline. She taught for a few years, and then decided to take her career in a new direction.

Century College: A Welcoming Environment

“I chose Century College because it was close to home and very affordable,” Pa remembers. “I applied for scholarships while there, and received a couple of them, which made it even more affordable. The scholarship application was easy-straightforward, and they offer a variety for everyone and everybody.”

Like many of Century College’s adult students, Pa is married and a busy mom of a two-year-old child. “I really liked the fact that the College has a broad variety of students from all different demographics–multicultural students, students of all ages, backgrounds, and lived experiences. That’s so special, especially when you’re coming to the College as an adult learner.”

Building A New Career: Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene

While taking science classes at the College, Pa met and networked with classmates who worked in the health care field. She had thought about going into Century College’s Nursing program, but decided that Dental Assisting was a better fit.

Soon, she applied for the Dental Assisting program and quickly earned her degree. After gaining work experience in her new field, Pa then applied to Century’s Dental Hygiene program. “It’s a small program, and only 12 students are accepted each year,” Pa notes. “Century’s program requires that you work as a DA first, before you apply for the Dental Hygiene program—it’s a special thing. I didn’t apply anywhere else.

“Additionally, in the Dental Hygiene program, you focus on taking your National Board exams (in March). Century College faculty help prepare students by working on their study skills for the National Board. Then, a few weeks later, you take the hands-on credit exam. The program is set up so that you can get your license soon after you graduate.”

Pa just graduated from Century in May 2023. For her hard work and her devotion to the field, her coursework, and her fellow students, she was recognized by the Dental Hygiene faculty by being awarded with the annual Outstanding Student Award.

“When I heard about the Outstanding Student Award, I was super excited, super stoked. I love this program! I was blown away, and so honored,” Pa says.

Quick Employment in a High-Demand Field

Pa will soon begin working at Community Dental Care in Maplewood. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait,” Pa enthuses. “I did my rotation there. The clinic is non-profit, gives back to the community, and provides a great work environment.”

Future Goals

As she moves up the career ladder, Pa is already thinking about her future, and it looks bright. “The Century College Dental Hygiene program helped me advance in my career,” she says. “And, I have been thinking a lot about earning another Bachelor’s degree—this time, in Dental hygiene. That will allow me to expand into research or teaching in the future.

“Perhaps I’ll come back to the College to teach. Anything is possible!

“Century College was a great fit–allowing you to live your life and go to school. I’m so thankful for my Century College education!””


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