Jorel Belarmino, RDH (B.S.’06/H&S; B.S.’14/D), is a registered dental hygienist living in Kissimmee, Florida. When he’s not working, he’s either working out at the gym or spending time at Disney World where his wife, Honey (B.A.’10/WS; B.A.’10/WS), works as member services manager at the Disney Vacation Club. He will be taking over the VCU Alumni Instagram account next week to give us a glimpse into his life.
What drew you to VCU?
I was born in Toronto, Ontario, and my family moved to Surrey, British Columbia, when I was 8. I attended middle school and high school through 10th grade there before we relocated to Richmond, Virginia. When it came time to choose a college, I wanted to stay close to my younger brother. After doing some research and learning about the outstanding reputation the health sciences program [at VCU] has as well as just the community feel and diversity around campus, it seemed like a perfect fit. VCU is a place I call home.
Do you remember your favorite moment from your time on campus?
There’s so many to choose from! One that’s on the top of my list is a clinic session I had in the dental hygiene program. During one of our first clinic sessions as junior dental hygiene students, Joan Pellegrini Ph.D., RDH (Ph.D.’08/E), was on duty grading my clinical notes.
I signed them “Jorel” without my last name to which she commented, “Jorel, you didn’t put your full name. How do you spell your last name? I’ll put it in for you.”
I thought, how professional of her to write my name in for me. This was my opportunity to set the tone for the year. I said, “Oh OK, thanks Dr. P.! It’s A-W-E-S-O-M-E.” She turned around and gave me this blank stare with an underlying smile.
I apologized and told her I was kidding, then spelled out awesome again. She said, “Oh jeez, nevermind, you do it,” chuckled and walked away.
Why did you choose to study dentistry?
I grew up enjoying the sciences and thought about becoming a doctor. I really wanted to use my hands so I thought being a surgeon would be a good option for me.
When I sat down and considered my options, I thought about the costs, happiness and quality of life. Dental hygiene fit the bill; it’s a highly rewarding career with flexibility, and I get to deliver great patient care.
I think my favorite part of working in dentistry is educating patients on how to improve their overall health through dental care at home.
How did you and your wife meet?
After I finished my first bachelor’s degree in science at VCU, I decided I’d go back to school. Shortly after my first semester back, I was working as a teaching assistant and tutoring entry-level biology and physiology classes. One day I just happened to sit in on an introductory biology lecture and there she was, Honey Delo, in the first row taking notes.
We had some mutual friends, had been introduced to each other in the Student Commons once but that was it. So there I was enamored with this stunning girl in the front row of the class I was tutoring. I decided to go for it, and the rest is history.
What prompted your move from Richmond to Florida?
It was always my wife’s dream to work for Mickey. We both grew up loving the magical world of Disney so we decided to make it happen.
Together, we set a goal, drew up a plan and executed it. I completed my second bachelor’s in dental hygiene, which gave us a solid foundation. Once she finished her degrees, we made the move to Florida where she’s pursued a career with the Walt Disney Co. Now we live our lives filled with pixie dust!
The both of us always say you should never fully become an adult. We’ve been Mouseketeers at heart since we were kids. Walt Disney World is the happiest place on earth. What’s not to love?