Justin Tan graduated in Spring 2018 with an AAS in Dental Hygiene, but that’s just part of his story. The oldest of three boys and a lifelong resident of Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, the 25 year old was raised by a single mother and dropped out of Walter Payton College Prep midway through high school. From there, he worked as a security guard and eventually earned his GED. He knew he wanted to continue his education, so his next step was CCC’s Harold Washington College, where he dipped his toe in the academic waters by taking one class.

Justin’s always been motivated to help and heal others and made a career in healthcare his goal. So, he set his sights on CCC’s Dental Hygiene program, which was then offered at Kennedy-King College. Justin knew gaining acceptance into the program would be challenging, but he wasn’t deterred. He got started on his pre-requisite courses, most of which he was able to take at Harold Washington College. The full blown re-entry into school was challenging, but eventually Justin found his rhythm and was consistently earning As and Bs.

In 2016 Justin started the Dental Hygiene program, which by that time had moved to the state-of-the-art Malcolm X College, CCC’s center of excellence for health sciences. With his objective clearly in sight, Justin put everything he had into the next two years—and it showed. He was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a One Million Degrees scholar, and took full advantage of the help of his advisor, with whom he developed a very close relationship.

“If you asked me 5 years ago, I wouldn’t imagine I would be in the position I am now,” said Justin when asked to reflect on his path. “It wouldn’t have been possible without all the resources I utilized during my time at City Colleges.”

Justin is currently seeking employment as a dental hygienist and plans to transfer in the fall of 2018, most likely to the University of St. Francis or Concordia University.

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