Shamika White graduated from Hyde Park Academy in 2000 and shortly thereafter joined the U.S. Navy. Working for both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as a body guard for a chaplain, Shamika spent eight years serving her country.
After being a frequent patient of the Navy’s dental clinic, Shamika felt a connection that she wanted to turn into a career. She left the military and got her certificate in dental assisting in San Diego, then moved back to Chicago. Knowing she wanted to continue her education and get her associate degree in dental hygiene, Shamika’s mom helped her research. They found CCC’s dental hygiene program, which at the time was located at Kennedy-King College, not far from where she lived on the south side.
Shamika started the program as soon as she moved back, and graduated with her AAS in Dental Hygiene in 2010. Part of the dental hygiene program gives students hands-on experience by partnering with community organizations and hospitals, and Shamika clocked some of her hours at an organization on the north side that provides dental services to the homeless. After graduation and while she was looking for a job in her field, she continued to volunteer her time there. A short time later, she was hired there full-time to direct the program, working with dental hygiene students to provide a much needed service to clients while getting the hands-on experience that was preparing them for the working world.
In 2013, Shamika started working at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center as a dental hygienist. Once CCC’s Dental Hygiene program moved to Malcolm X College (MXC), she helped to implement a dental hygiene student rotation so that second year students could apply what they’ve learned on real patients, under the watchful eye of hygienist like Shamika.
“At Jesse Brown they are in a real world situation, seeing their own patients – they have to finish quicker and implement everything they’ve learned at MXC.”
Shamika enjoys being able to support students from her alma mater as part of her job. She says, “It is such a blessing. Sometimes when you do things routinely, you lose your passion a little. But working with students motivates me, and as I’m teaching them, they are teaching me. It is a huge pleasure to be able to work with them.”