Donna Witmeyer chose challenge over complacency. Back in 1999, when Witmeyer graduated Culver High School—as a member of the National Honor Society—she received a COCC Foundation scholarship that sparked her start in higher education. She relocated to Bend and immersed herself in college studies, but academic ambition and the goal of starting a family soon pulled her in divergent directions.
To help support her new family, Witmeyer stepped away from school, worked at a bank and rose through the ranks. Ultimately, she found a way to incorporate part-time studies at COCC into her life and, in 2009, accomplished her original goal of receiving her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree, with a focus on education. She worked as a math tutor for a time, but by then had reached the position of operations manager and decided to stay put.
Still, at the back of her mind, a realization took hold—a feeling that she wanted to work in a health care profession. She decided to leave her comfortable job, circle back to COCC, and go after a one-year dental assistant certificate.
"I was nervous at first," admits Witmeyer, "but things started to click and make sense. That was a good feeling." She discovered a career that utilizes a broad range of skills: "Composites, charting, impressions…it’s going to be a good variety." Along the way, she made the Dean’s List and was selected to the 2019 All-Oregon Academic Team.
The Prineville resident is excited to start her new chapter—and already feels inspired by the possibilities. "My long-term goal," she says, "is to go on mission trips to help people in other countries that don’t have access to dental care."