At 42, age isn’t the only thing non-traditional about Cat Guerrero, a fourth-year dental student at ASDOH. Named by her father after the 1965 movie, “Cat Ballou,” Guerrero decided on dentistry after having two other successful occupations.
Guerrero’s career began in administration with the United States Secret Service where she worked more than five years. She completed background checks, worked in the counterfeiting division, and was also responsible for special details with foreign dignitaries. She even worked a detail for President George H.W. Bush.
Guerrero and husband Bobby have three children, Sierra and Zachary, both age 12 (pictured), and Nick, age 20, who attends Scottsdale Community College.
It was while working with the Secret Service that the idea of becoming a dentist first occurred to her.
“I was discussing my career with an agent that I knew,” says Guerrero. “At the time, I was taking classes at the Maryland Institute of Art, thinking that I could one day work for Disney doing animation. When the agent said his wife was a dentist, I was impressed. It was the 80s, and women’s career opportunities were limited – mostly clerical jobs or grocery shop clerks.”
After moving to Arizona in 1992, Guerrero found a second career at a large computer distributing company where she configured network systems. But she soon decided that the corporate world was wearing thin.
“I wanted to spend more quality time with my family and be more involved with them,” she says. “I was tired of 60-hour work weeks.”
The thought of becoming a dentist still echoed in her mind. At age 32, Guerrero volunteered at the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) Dental Clinic in Phoenix where she met students from ASDOH.
“I wanted to see if dentistry was truly the professional career for me,” says Guerrero. “The dental director at CASS and the ASDOH students left an impression on me. They were compassionate with patients and talked with me about dental school – what to expect and how to study, and they talked about the great faculty involvement with students. I knew that ASDOH was for me.”
Guerrero is convinced that dentists can transform lives and hopes to continue to serve the underserved in her professional career. She has applied for a pediatric residency in Tucson, Ariz., and also hopes to one day become an adjunct faculty member at ASDOH.