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.
Joshua Elliss, DMD
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.
Cory Thompson, DMD
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.”
Robert (Bobby) Espinoza, DDS
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 LV. 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.
Jared Southwell, DMD
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.
Jazmin Villalpando, Dental Assistant
“I love helping patients feel comfortable about their dental procedures with the dentist! Being able to sit chair side with the doctor to help transform smiles is the most rewarding feeling. The variety of our patient’s needs, and procedures makes every day exciting and an experience I treasure”
When Jazmin is not at work, she enjoys the special time spent with family, experimenting all the new make-up techniques and of course, shopping!
Lorrane Aguilar, Dental Assistant
“I love the joy in helping patients feel better whether its soothing anxiety or nervousness they may feel about their treatment plan or helping patients achieve the smile they dream about. Being able to help a patient relax and feel comfortable while they are at the dentist is personally the most rewarding aspect of being a dental assistant.”
In Lorrane’s free time, she loves spending time with her kiddos. She is an avid concert fanatic, so she tries to get a few in, and catching up on missed TV shows.
Michele Thompson, Clinical Administrator
“The most fulfilling part of my position is making others happy and being able to lighten their load. I have always really enjoyed working with people, everyone I meet is an amazing novel that just has not yet been written!”
When Michele isn’t keeping the office running smoothly, she loves to garden, shop for the “great” bargain, swimming and never gives up the opportunity to escape into a good book.
Deborah Zuniga, Front Desk Administrator
“I really enjoy working with people, so being in a fast-paced office is perfect for me. Being the first person, our patients see when they walk in, brightens my day!”
In Deborah’s spare time, she loves heading up to the lake and soaking in some sun! Catching every one of her nieces and nephews’ sports games that she can is a top priority! If you see Deborah running in the door from lunch, it’s not “lunch” necessarily… but a much-needed break with her fur babies!
Jorge Prieto, Dental Hygienist
"I decided to enter the dental hygiene industry over 18 years ago after watching my wife's love of her career in the dental field. One of my favorite aspects of my position is getting to hear all my patients life stories! Helping a patient learn how to achieve their personal oral hygiene goals is so satisfying to me!"
In Jorge's free time, he loves listening to music... music in all genres! Enjoying time with his family is a precious commodity he treasures and makes the most of!
Carmen Hernandez, Lead Dental Hygienist
"I began dentistry in 1983, on the job training with a wonderful dentist that had just graduated. I later worked with a husband-wife dentist team that encouraged me to go to school for dental hygiene. I graduated in 2001. I have a passion for dentistry as it has allowed me to meet such amazing people and I continue to learn and grow. I love helping patients overcome their fears, and helping them feel better!"
When Carmen isn't working closely with her patients at the practice, she spends precious moments with her grandchildren and family! She values her downtime as an opportunity to not only relax, but to make memories with her loved ones.
Jonece Wachi, Hygiene Assistant
“Its really important to me to try my hardest at everything I do! I love to make others lives a little easier, plus I get to work with the most amazing team! They are always so grateful it makes the work I do worth all of it!... no matter how many times my fingers get bitten.”
Jonece loves taking in yoga when she is not helping the staff at Hillrise Dental, and baking… but sweets only
Merlinda Rodriguez, Insurance Coordinator
“I love numbers and trying to solve problems! I work hard to make sure our patients get all their benefits their insurance plan offers to help them get the smile they want.”
When Merlinda isn’t crunching numbers at the practice, she is spending time with her little guy, going to college, and playing football… yes football on a local las cruces team!