The fight for my career #genderequality

Nothing ever came easy to me. Dental school had its trials and tribulations. My mom passed away the same week I got accepted. I remember going in for my interview and the interviewer asking me “Are you glad you’re here?”  I remember saying “You want the truth?” He said yes. My response was, “No my mom’s dying and I really rather not be there.” We got to talking and became good friends instantly, as I was leaving the interview he said I would have good news by the end of the week. I got accepted to USC on Friday of that week and my interviewer became a good mentor and resource for my time there...but my mother did pass away that week, she was only 51.  (Ann Marie Wolney)

That was not to be my only obstacle. Remember I said I had two kids and a husband. I lived in the fraternity. That had its ups and downs. I’ll tell this one story that sill is different. I was allotted one bathroom to do “my stuff” every morning this one guy would be butt naked on the toilet doing his business with the door open. Why? Good thing I was a confident person because I just shook my head and shook it off. It was definitely interesting living in a fraternity although I was prepped for this having lived with 9 other siblings/cousins while growing up. With the frat being such a party frat, women from different sororities were constantly hooking up with dentists in the fraternity. This was detrimental to some marriages and friendships, luckily I was focused on graduating and taking care of my family so I strayed away from the partying and drama as much as possible. Some of the fraternity drama was unavoidable, at one point during my stay they tried to kick me out in the middle of one of my hardest semesters. I fought to make sure this didn’t happen because I was too busy and focused in school to move. This created havoc amongst the fraternity, and the chair head of the frat, who happened to be one of my professors... The professor threatened that I move out, I declined to move out. Because of the professors bias he made the class extremely hard for me to pass. I was somewhat unstoppable at the time because I wanted to finish my education, I had a goal and I knew it was accomplishable. I took this matter to the Dean and discussed this with the interviewer I mentioned earlier, surprisingly after bringing this to administrations attention the professor stopped letting his bias affect my grade.

I would go back to Atascadero each weekend to see my husband and kids. I would race up the grapevine to stay awake. Thinking back it probably wasn’t smart doing that but I was young, and wanted to be with my family as soon as possible. I’m glad I didn’t get hurt, or anyone else for that matter during my weekly late night and early morning commutes.

I did have  to take a year off and become credit worthy in the middle of my junior year. I ran out of money. For those in my hometown who thought I was privileged being Dr. Wolney’s daughter know he did not help me through dental school. As a matter of fact he told me I had no business being in dental school, I had children and I should be attending to them. I’m glad I did just the opposite, I knew the importance of having a good job to provide for my family. I was not going to let the poor influence of sexism get in my way.  I did end up going back and I had to fight to get back into school at my same status as when I left. Luckily, I had the Dean sign a paper that secured my status. There were many incidents that I had to endure but I survived and persevered and all those life lessons which made me the person I am today.

I went to go look for jobs and what I ran into was a little disturbing but again I lived and moved through it all. When I looked for a job I was told I can work as a hygienist and if I do good they can move me to a dentist. I was in that in-between generation. I was (at the time) in a male dominant field. I did not let that affect me, with all odds against me I still believed in myself enough to start my own business, not only to show everyone I am/was just as capable but also because dentistry is something I have always loved. In November 1999 I opened my first office in Thousand Oaks California. I did so well that I was able to move my office to Lindero Canyon Road where I opened a state of the art office with 7 operatories to work out of. I had 4 hygienists and another doctor working for me. In that time I had three more kids bringing my total to 5. I took all the “you can’t do this because you are a woman”, “No’s” and negative energy and turned this into my motivation to ensure I succeed.