AVON PARK — Ten graduates of South Florida State College’s dental hygiene program were honored May 2 in a traditional pinning ceremony in the University Center Auditorium.
Graduates were Jennifer Dennison, Ashley Godwin, Chelsi Huddleston, Alejandra Lopez, Maria Mares, Stefanie Raimondi, Noelia Rodriguez, Sara Sebring, Ashley Sherley and Molly Sutton.
Sutton garnered special recognition for academic excellence for highest GPA in the class, and Sara Sebring earned the STAR Award, or Student Total Achievement Recognition, for excellence and commitment to the dental hygiene profession.
Keynote speaker Kevin Brown, SFSC dean of applied sciences and technologies, recounted a brief history of SFSC’s dental hygiene program and expressed how proud he is of its graduates. “Of the students in our first graduating class, 100 percent passed the national board exam. And in the program’s 10-year history, 98 percent of the students passed the national board exam on their first try.”
Speaking directly to the graduates, Brown offered six pieces of advice. “Maintain the infection control standards that you learned at SFSC,” he said. “You will be protecting your patients, and because of your diligence in this matter, you will earn respect.”
He urged the graduates to understand their strengths and weaknesses. “If you know your weaknesses, you can adjust for them and learn to overcome them.” He emphasized the importance of being involved in their professional dental hygiene association. Brown asked them to show compassion to new people in the workplace by being patient and understanding and empowering them to do a good job. In his final words, he challenged them: “Be inspired by and take with you all you have learned at SFSC.”
“A well-trained hygienist can bring so much more to the patient than just the cleaning,” said Dr. Deborah Milliken, chair of SFSC’s dental education program. “Hygienists can help educate the public about oral health, including topics such as oral cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes which can be impacted by oral disease and early childhood decay which sets a pattern for a lifetime.”
For program entry requirements, visit www.southflorida.edu/academic/apsci/dental/. For more information, call 784-7131.