Gemma Sessions has been named Health and Social Care Apprentice of the Year in annual awards organised by Cambridge Regional College. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate excellent employers and employees across the region.
Gemma, 33, a dental nurse at So Dental, Chatteris, said: “Being a Health and Social Care apprentice has given me the opportunity to find a career I really love in which I can progress.
“Being a young mum, working and juggling college was busy and at times difficult but it was do-able.
“I’m now a registered dental nurse and can go on to other training if I like such as hygienist, fluoride training, oral hygiene, X rays.
“Apprenticeships are a great way to earn and learn and get hands-on experience in a meaningful way. Work experience is the best way to learn among people who can support and encourage you.”
Gemma was studying fashion and textiles at CRC when she met her husband Leigh who was in the army.
They married when she was just 20 and lived together in Germany, Portsmouth, and Thorney Island.
They started their family young and with Leigh being in the forces and getting posted on two tours of Iraq, her career never really took off.
“I worked in a golf ball factory, a toy shop, and a care home. The care homework made me realise I really enjoyed being in a caring role. I knew then I wanted to do something in that arena,” Gemma said.
“In 2012 we moved to Chatteris. I worked at the Gables Care Home in Chatteris as an activity coordinator for three years.
“While there I saw a training opportunity come up at So Dental in Chatteris and I thought this is my chance to do something for me.
“During the apprenticeship, I spent one night a week at college and worked five days a week at the dentist surgery. It was two years of steady work and I completed it in September 2019.
“I loved the classroom learning and being among my peer group, sharing knowledge and taking it back to the workplace. Our tutor was brilliant so it was easy to pick up new things.
En-Qi Chi, the owner of So Dental Chatteris, said: “I like how structured the CRC apprenticeship programme has been. Gemma has been great. She came knowing nothing about dentistry but has worked so hard, taken notes, revised, taken new things on board. Always eager to learn.
“She is very caring and has the ability to click with patients and help them to feel at ease. This is invaluable. Her people skills are incredible.
“Thanks to Gemma I will definitely take on another apprentice in the future as it has worked so well.”