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Learn From the Best: Julie Bera says the enthusiasm of GRCC dental students inspires her to teach

July 15, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Professor Julie Bera knows Grand Rapids Community College Dental Program graduates are the best in the state. 

“Our reputation comes from our class sizes, that we are CODA Accredited, from our dedicated and experienced faculty, and from the way local dentists support the education of our students,” Bera said. 

GRCC offers both dental assisting and dental hygiene programs, allowing instructors to provide a deeper education to students in each program. 

Beyond teaching, Bera advises the GRCC Dental Assisting Club, and works statewide to promote careers in dental assisting. For example, she has served on a variety of task forces and committees to address the shortage of licensed dental assistants, and she was instrumental in developing GRCC’s new pathway for working dental assistants to advance in their education and careers. 

Despite her advocacy, teaching remains Bera’s passion. And that passion is fed by her relationship building and interactions with students. 

“Their excitement for learning as they progress through our dental programs is contagious,'' she said.

Bera is also inspired by her team at GRCC, and she never forgets the servant leadership of former GRCC dental program instructor and director Bunny Cookwalter.

Bera’s career teaching dental assisting was not something she planned for.

“I was working as a dental assistant and decided to go back to college to get a degree, hoping to be a health educator,” she said. I was asked to teach part time at GRCC, after being an adjunct instructor for 10 years, I accepted a full time position in 1999. I have never looked back after 31 years at GRCC - I love teaching!”

Bera holds an associate of arts in dental assisting she earned from GRCC when the college was known as Grand Rapids Junior College. 

She earned a bachelor's degree in health studies, and a masters degree in educational leadership, from Western Michigan University. 

She has served on the Michigan State Board of Dentistry and on the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Bera was recently the first recipient of the Michigan Dental Association’s Allied Dental Professional Educator Award from the Michigan Dental Association for her commitment to public service and education.


 

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