High school student nears diploma, degree en route to goal of dentistry career

Published on: March 16, 2023
Aghader Yassen portrait
Aghader Yassen will enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill next fall as an 18-year-old junior and debt-free from her first two years of higher education.

When Aghader Yassen was seven, she happened upon an educational YouTube video about brushing your teeth. It was so impactful that she set her career goal to become a dentist that day.

"I've always wanted to be a dentist. I watched that YouTube video when I was younger and it said, ‘when you brush your teeth it's the only time you are cleaning your skeletal system' and boom, I knew I wanted to be a dentist." Yassen said.

"At seven, while other kids my age ran toward firefighter costumes and doctor toy kits and things like that, and I ran toward the dental play sets," she said.

A decade after that video, Yassen's persistence and hard work in the Guilford Technical Community College Career and College Promise program, she's taking a huge step toward that goal before her 18th birthday. She'll graduate from GTCC this spring, a few days before her high school graduation from the Triad Math and Science Academy.

The Career and College Promise program at GTCC is a tuition-free program for high school juniors and seniors who have a cumulative unweighted GPA of 2.8 or higher or passing test scores.

Yassen's journey has not always been an easy one. She was born in Baghdad and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was four. She has vague memories of her time in Iraq, and most are not good.

"I have memories of my family and I remember hanging out with my uncles. The rest (of her memories) are about soldiers," she said.

"I commend and respect my parents for making the move to the United States. They also believed there were better opportunities in the U.S. They had to leave their families, their entire lives behind them."

After learning about the Career and College Promise program from a guidance counselor, Yassen enrolled in the program in the fall of 2021. She took a handful of classes at her high school and with GTCC classes last year. This semester she is taking only GTCC classes.

There have been numerous benefits from the CCP program. She will enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill next fall as an 18-year-old junior and debt-free from her first two years of higher education.

"Obviously, I don't have to worry about general education (at a four-year school) because I've completed that. That means I don't have to worry about spending about $20,000 to get that. And of course, it helped me here at GTCC without having to pay tuition. My dad works in maintenance and my mom is a teacher's assistant, so financially it was important."

The program has also exposed Yassen to a very diverse student population on GTCC's campuses, allowing her to develop relationships with other students who have similar backgrounds.

"I'm always connected to my family back home, but GTCC has a large community of my culture and I feel love there," she said. "I really love the student body at GTCC. I find people who have shared similar experiences to me, not only from students, but the faculty as well."

It has been a well-rounded two years for Yassen, two years that have kept her on course to achieve her childhood dream.

"GTCC helped me achieve things I didn't believe I could achieve."

Visit the Career and College Promise program web page for more information. 









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