2014 Dental Assistant Student of the Year

Stephanie Lynn Turner
Stephanie Lynn Turner

Stephanie Lynn Turner pursues her dream to be a dental hygienist

At the age of seven, Stephanie Lynn Turner was already picturing herself working in a dentist’s office. Today, Stephanie is 20 and a new graduate of the Dental Assistant program at Dakota County Technical College. She is also the 2014 Dental Assistant of the Year at DCTC. She was selected for the honor by her fellow students and her instructors.

A native of Lakeville, Minn., and a 2011 graduate of Lakeville South High School, Stephanie plans to continue her education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She attended MNSU Mankato right out of high school, pursuing a B.S. in Dental Hygiene. She worked on her generals for two years, but faced delays because the Dental Hygiene program had a waiting list.

As it happened, Stephanie’s dentist, Dr. Joan Sheppard at Plaza Dental in Burnsville, helped start the Dental Assistant program at DCTC. Stephanie’s best friend, Lisa Queen, works as a dental hygienist in Dr. Sheppard’s office. Together, they helped keep Stephanie’s academic career moving forward.

“My dentist had great things to say about the DCTC program,” Stephanie said, “and Lisa is not only a friend, but also my mentor. She showed me what life is like as a dental hygienist in the field.”

“Stephanie has been voted as Dental Assistant Student of the Year by her peers and her instructors. She has demonstrated her ability to be an ‘A student’ and a class leader by cheerfully helping other students. She is always a team player in all aspects of the Dental Assistant program. She will be an asset to her future employer!”  — Diana Sullivan, Dental Assistant Instructor

Stephanie likes that the college is close to her home in Lakeville. She also likes how her program area is localized on campus, an advantage that allowed her to build strong relationships with her instructors and classmates.

“On my first day of class, I knew I was in the right field,” said Stephanie, who created a Facebook page exclusively for the Class of 2014. “I like that our class sizes are smaller and you see familiar faces every day. Diana and Jaime are there for us twenty-four-seven. We are one big dental family.”

Stephanie has plans to work as a dental assistant in Mankato while she completes her bachelor’s degree. She is looking ahead to working in an orthodontic care setting once she finishes school. Her personality revolves around helping others. “I like encouraging people and making them happy,” she said, adding that orthodontics is the dental specialty that helps create beautiful, healthy smiles.

“I was impressed with Stephanie and knew she would be an outstanding student the first week of class. I asked for a volunteer to organize an activity involving the students, she immediately raised her had and volunteered not even knowing what exactly what she would be doing. Soon after that she copied study cards for everyone in the class. She will truly be an asset to any dental office!” — Jaime Pieper, Dental Assistant Instructor

In high school, Stephanie was on the track team, competing in shot put and discus. She also served as the girl’s hockey manager. She is going on her sixth year as a volunteer day captain at the Minnesota Zoo, a place she loves to work. As a day captain, she supervises up to 18 volunteers at the Wells Fargo Family Farm, interacting with zoo visitors, milking cows, and caring for chickens, goats, pigs, sheep and other animals.

An only child, Stephanie shares a passion for snowmobiling with her parents, who own a cabin near Hinckley, Minn. “We are Polaris people,” she mentioned with a smile. The family has one dog, Kota, 8, a Basenji-dachshund mix, and three rescue cats, Jackson, Callie and Pinkie.

Regarding her selection as 2014 Dental Assistant Student of the Year, Stephanie is more than grateful. “I was beyond shock,” she said. “Having my peers vote for me means a lot.”

For more information about the Dental Assistant program at DCTC, contact:
According to iSeek Careers, both wages and occupational outlook for dental assistants are above the statewide median.

Seven-county metro area

  • Median earners: $21.38/hour
  • Top earners: $27.09/hour

Demand between 2010 and 2020

  • Minnesota job growth: 19 percent
  • U.S. job growth: 30.8 percent