Northwest Technical College alumna Ashley LaCrosse ’19 took an interest in the dental industry at a young age after a visit to the orthodontist. Fueled by her passion for dentistry and longing to be near her north woods hometown Lacrosse made the life-changing decision to attend NTC.
Growing up, LaCrosse, of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, wanted to be a teacher but changed her mind after getting braces in ninth grade.
“I was enthralled with the whole process and I loved watching the dentist and the assistant,” LaCrosse said.
After that, LaCrosse started researching dental careers and even reached out to a dental assistant for more information. When she discovered Northwest Tech, LaCrosse was in the middle of her college search and comparing many dental programs across the region. In the end, with its proximity to her hometown and all it had to offer in terms of the great outdoors, Northwest Tech emerged as the victor.
“After thinking it over and taking a long look at schools I decided that I liked the atmosphere of Bemidji most and it felt more like home,” she said.
During her time at Northwest Tech, LaCrosse became interested in both orthodontics – the form of dentistry that focuses on bite correction – and general dentistry. To determine which field she liked the most, LaCrosse went above and beyond what is expected of dental students at NTC and completed two internships, one in each field.
In addition NTC’s dental program’s experiential curriculum, LaCrosse said the college’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day, an event where community members can bring their children in for free dental exams, allowed her to work on children of all ages and focus on patients outside of the classroom.
“After experiencing both types of work, I decided that general dentistry was more of my calling,” LaCrosse said. “I was very surprised by this because orthodontics was what led me to this career, but I know now after working in general dentistry for almost two years that I made the right choice.”
Through a partnership between Northwest Tech and Bemidji State University Kemp was able to live in student housing only a few miles away.
Taking advantage of NTC’s unique relationship with Bemidji State University’s Department of Housing and Residential Life, LaCrosse was able to live in student housing only a few miles away. There, she was able to immerse herself in the university’s student life.
“It was the best decision ever and my life wouldn’t be the same without it,” LaCrosse said. “I loved how everything was so close and convenient. You could never be bored because there was always someone to hang with, talk to or go eat a meal with. I’m still friends and hang out with many of the people that I met during my freshman year. Lifelong friends were definitely made.”
Currently, LaCrosse works as a certified and licensed dental assistant at North Country Dental in Bemidji where she hopes to keep moving forward in her career and focus on learning how to work with geriatric and disabled patients’ needs.
“Everything that I learned and did during my time at NTC has helped me with my career,” she said. “Now, I want to keep up with the times and new technology, and be the best source of information for my patients as I can be.”