From UNM-Gallup Student to Dental Assisting Instructor, Neysa Cox Achieves Educational and Career Success.
BY LEE LAMB | 12.7.2021
For over the past 20 years, UNM-Gallup dental assisting instructor Neysa Cox has turned a passion for dentistry into not only a career but an educational journey for herself as well as for her students pursuing an education and potential career in dental assisting.
“With 20 years of experience as a dental assistant, I feel that I have the experience to train my students to become successful dental assistants in our community or anywhere else they choose to go,” Cox explained. “I’m passionate about dentistry, and I want to pass that on to my students as well as any knowledge I can give them.”
Her knowledge stems from a decade’s long educational pursuit in the field that began with attaining a certificate in dental assisting from UNM-Gallup in 2000 after graduating from Ramah High School. “I first went to college at a small institution called Snow College in Utah but came back to New Mexico and obtained my dental assisting certificate at UNM-Gallup,” she said.
She immediately put her certificate from UNM-Gallup to use and worked as a chairside dental assistant in general dentistry and endodontics for nearly two decades. During one of her husband’s deployments as a Marine, Cox decided that she wanted to continue her education and work toward a Bachelor’s Degree in English at the University of Phoenix; which allowed her to continue working and raising their five kids. She received her bachelor’s in 2017 with the goal to be a secondary ELA teacher.
Just recently this year, Cox achieved another goal and received a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the University of Phoenix. “I was working on my Master’s Degree in Secondary Education when I was hired to teach dental assisting at UNM-Gallup but then switched my major to adult education and training because I felt it would be more useful than a degree in secondary education,” she said. Cox went on to explain that the courses she took throughout her master’s are beneficial to her role as instructor at the university where she can contribute to online learning, assessments, diversity and inclusion, program and course development, writing and using rubrics effectively, and creating learning objectives.
Cox’s enthusiasm to her profession is evident in the way she talks about the program offered at UNM-Gallup. She explained that dental assisting is an exciting field many with many opportunities where dental assistants can work in various specialties such as endodontics, oral surgery, orthodontics, and more. “UNM-Gallup has an accredited program which means our students can get nationally certified with the Dental Assisting National Board,” Cox went on to explain.
With her professional background, experience, and education, Cox said that she wants to inspire students and let them know that dental assisting is a great profession with many opportunities for advancement such as becoming a hygienist, dentist, or an educator. “I love my field, and I hope our students love it and find great success in the profession as I have,” she said.