All our professionals at Sonoma Family Dental maintain the highest levels of accreditation and pursue ongoing education to stay abreast of the latest trends in dentistry.
During his undergraduate studies at Dixie State College – St. George and Utah State College, Josh Elliss was awarded the Dr. Barnum Research award and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Dr. Elliss then attended the University of Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine; he was also an extern at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, where he was exposed to modern cosmetic and occlusion techniques. Upon graduation from UNLV, he was awarded the Quintessence Award for his research during school and the Outstanding Student Award from the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain. After schooling, Dr. Ellis practiced in Dallas, Texas, prior to moving his family to Las Cruces.
“Growing up in a small town next to Zion’s National Park in southern Utah, I cultivated a love for outdoors and hiking at an early age. I am grateful to now look out my window every day and see the beautiful Organ Mountains so close by. Las Cruces is a unique and diverse place and my family feels at home here.”
Dr. Elliss is currently involved in local cub scouts and enjoys being a supporter of NMSU athletics and student organizations.
Dr. Cory Thompson attended Arizona State University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Dr. Thompson then went on to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine out east where he loved the seasons but learned to appreciate the fact that you never have to shovel sunshine. At his family’s request/urging, Dr. Thompson set out to practice in the desert southwest. After some time spent in Arizona, Las Cruces became home and he and his family have grown to love the area and the people.
“There is a uniqueness about Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico that I really enjoy. I love the spectacular mountain views and White Sands National Park. This is a place that my family and I are excited to call home. I am looking forward to helping the people of Las Cruces with their dental needs and I am excited about the many wonderful options that we can provide for you at Hillrise Dental.”
Born and raised in New Mexico, at a young age Dr. Espinoza knew he wanted to be a dentist. The path was not always straight and clear but with encouragement from his family, friends and church he had faith he would achieve his goal. He started to develop a hard work ethic while attending Las Cruces High School and working at Memorial Medical Center as a Sanitation Aid. After graduating from high school and completing a certificate as a Certified Nursing Assistance, he worked at Las Cruces Nursing Center and attended NMSU School of Business and College of Arts and Sciences to complete pre-dental requirements. Upon completing his Bachelors in Business Administration and all pre-dental requirements, he was accepted into Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. There he served as class president all four years and was a part of the Dean's List for academic achievements. In his senior year he was nominated and won several leadership awards including recognition by the California Dental Association for research and the Prince Award, which the school deems one of the most prestigious awards given. Wanting to continue to learn more about dentistry and advanced procedures, Dr. Espinoza was accepted into the University of New Mexico Advanced General Dentistry program. He studied an extra year of day-to-day dental procedures in a clinic and hospital setting, as well as IV conscious sedation, dental implants, endodontic, fixed and removal prosthodontics, advanced pediatric cases, periodontal surgeries, impacted wisdom teeth removal, emergency dentistry and preventative dentistry. It was an intense year but working with specialists in each of those areas has helped mold him into a better dentist that wants to continue to grow and learn. After having several job offers around the U.S., Dr. Espinoza decided to take the job at Sonoma Family Dental and proudly serve his community that helped him in achieving his own goal.
Dr. Southwell grew up in gorgeous Thousand Oaks, CA and loved video games, art, singing, surfing, wrestling, running track, and playing the cello. After graduating from Thousand Oaks High School, he lived in Japan for two years as a volunteer for his church, and fell in love with the people, food, and language. Once returning home, he received a Bachelor's Degree from Brigham Young University in Japanese with minors in business and music.
He then realized his childhood dream of becoming a dentist by graduating from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Louisville, Kentucky, with Dean’s list honors. After finishing dental school he attended the Advanced Education General Dentistry Program at the University of Texas Dental School in Houston, TX. The residency provided many learning and clinical opportunities not usually available to a first-year dentist.
Since graduating, Dr. Southwell has lived in Farmington, NM and his hometown in Southern California. He has worked as both an associate and a practice owner. In his free time, he still loves playing the cello and working in the garden.
Dr. Southwell and his beautiful wife, Allison, have been married for 17 years and have four amazing children - two boys and two girls. They love hiking, the beach, Frisbee golf, board games, and most especially Disneyland!
Dr. Southwell is a member of the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the Santa Barbara/Ventura County Dental Society. He and his family are very excited about their new life in Las Cruces. Dr. Southwell loves his job and is committed to helping you find your optimal dental health.
Dr. Narek Akopyan was born in Armenia and came to the United States when he was 5 years old. He was raised in Los Angeles and attended undergrad at the University of California, San Diego where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Dr. Akopyan then went to dental school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Upon graduating, he received the American College of Dentists Outstanding Student Leader Award, as well as the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Student Award. He has taken a special interest in oral surgery procedures, including implant placement and wisdom tooth extractions. Dr. Akopyan has taken several continuing education courses on both implant placement techniques and theory. Understanding that many people are anxious when they come to the dentist, he has also been certified to administer intravenous sedation to make his patients feel more comfortable. Dr. Akopyan is very passionate about dentistry and is excited about serving the Las Cruces community. He also plans to take time off from private practice each year to travel internationally and provide dental treatment to underserved communities.
“I absolutely love what I do! I love helping patients obtain healthy oral hygiene. Making people smile is something I take pride in. There is nothing like the smile they have after their cleanings!”
In Stephanie’s free time, she loves making memories and spending time with her children! You will probably find her outside playing volleyball or softball. She makes sure to take time out to sew.
“Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of working in the dental field. I am a very organized person which helps me be completely thorough with the patients. I love dental hygiene because we can see immediate results. There is nothing more satisfying to me than sending a patient home with a full clean mouth of pearly whites!”
When Joselyn is away from her duties at work, she loves playing the piano, and taking cardio classes at local gyms. Joselyn also directs the woman’s choir at her church. Another pleasure is thrift store shopping finding the gem in the rough!
“In this field I feel I am continuously learning something new! Everyday is a different experience, not one case is like the next, which is so exciting! I like being able to help patients get a treatment plan in place”
Amanda loves spending time with her kiddos, watching the Steelers play a game and never turns down the opportunity to get into a great suspense novel.
“The thing that inspired me about being a dental assistant at the beginning of my career was simply the fascination for patients smiles! A smile is the first thing I notice when I meet someone new, so being involved with transforming someone’s smile into the smile they have dreamed of with the Dentist is priceless. Now I have the pleasure and passion for helping other dental assistants perform to the best of their ability so that our patients’ lives are changed by dentistry.”
During Melissa’s time away from the office, she loves spending time with her family and spoiling her fur babies.
“The numerous procedures involved with dental assisting makes it always interesting! I became a dental assistant because of the health care nature of the position and I so enjoy helping others!”
Robin spends her free time reading, and she loves to bake.
“I love assisting the Dentist and helping patients fall in love with their smiles. My favorite procedure is dentures and partials because the patients need them to chew, eat and laugh with a huge smile.”
Belen loves to clean and catch up on her days off
“I enjoy helping people to love their smile”
Renee loves spending time with her family, traveling every chance she gets, and being outdoors whenever she can.
“To know that I can put a smile back on a patient’s face inspires me daily! Sometimes patients come in with fear from past dental experiences, and that I can make that fear go away is such a rewarding feeling of my position. All of this while working side by side with an amazing dentist makes me proud to be a dental assistant!”
Lucia loves to watch a great movie, spending precious time with her kids and never turns down the opportunity to go shopping!
My position allows me to interact with our patients one on one, which is the highlight about my duties, and it allows be to build a great relationship with our patients! I love helping the front desk coordinators to make sure appointments run on time and pitching in help where it is needed. Watching patients leave happy makes my job priceless!
Anissa loves playing slow pitch softball every chance she gets! And chasing her little one around is her other full-time pleasure.
"Over the last 18 years in the Dental profession, I have been fortunate to work in several different states, meeting some amazing people! It is always rewarding to know I have helped someone be confident and love their smile."
When Heather isn't busy with her patients, she loves cooking, working out, traveling, watching Football, Baseball and spending time with her family and grandkids!
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