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Learner of the Year Highly Commended - Jodie Starling (Tempdent) 

The ‘Learner of the Year’ category in our Aspiration Awards honours learners who are developing themselves through vocational qualifications from NCFE or CACHE, making positive improvements to their lives. This year’s ‘Highly Commended’ award was presented to Jodie Starling, who is part of the apprenticeship programme in Dental Nursing with Tempdent.  

Inspirational achievements  

Jodie started the apprenticeship programme during the Covid-19 pandemic which for most is challenging enough, however there were several more barriers for Jodie. She found herself in a difficult situation after losing a close family member and the health of another close relative deteriorating.  Instead of this discouraging Jodie, she was determined to carry on. Her tutor, Teodora Van Der Berg, explained: “Jodie is truly an exceptional learner and has shown everyone the importance of inner strength”.  

Due to Jodie’s hard work and strong progress along the way with both her written work and remote observations, she was appointed to mentor her peers.  

As part of Jodie’s apprenticeship, she now works at Wight Dental Care, Isle of Wight, and continues to inspire her colleagues daily. Her employer, dentist Dr Mazgaj explained: “Jodie has exceeded every expectation, patients love her and she has always got a smile on her face. I can't stress enough how important her input was in dealing with difficult and challenging work conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic. As her employer I cannot imagine Jodie not being part of the team at that time.”  

Jodie’s colleague, Ria, adds: “Jodie is genuinely a special person. Kindness just radiates off her. She listens to everyone else's problems even if she has a pile of her own. There are so many things that Jodie should be proud of but one thing that stands out, and has affected us all, is how passionate she is about doing the right thing.” 

Thinking about her future plans, Jodie said: “My inspiration is to help ease as many patient’s anxieties over dentistry as possible. I like to pursue a holistic approach to dentistry and help anxious patients fulfil their dental needs. My aim is to study Hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques to supporting this holistic approach. I want patients to know we care about their fears and are here to support them.”