checking up on the dental hygiene program

DentalHygieneReunion015October is homecoming month for Valencia with a number of events scheduled to bring alumni back to campus, including the 35th anniversary Valencia dental hygiene program reunion on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Valencia College’s dental hygiene program was established in 1977 and graduated its charter class of 23 students in 1978. The graduates of the program are employed as clinicians, educators and public health hygienists. Numerous graduates have continued their education in dental hygiene, dentistry, education and public health.

The reunion celebration offers graduates a chance to stay connected to the program. One alumna takes that connection a step further, by offering generous scholarship funding. Megan Warlow is a 1989 graduate of the program and provides scholarship dollars to those who are following in her footsteps.

Emily Anderson is a 2012-2013 recipient of that funding. She found out about the opportunity through the dental hygiene program director, Pamela Sandy. Without this assistance, she would not have been able to return to college.

Emily plans to continue schooling and obtain a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. She wants to be active in the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and support the work to increase the scope of practice for dental hygienists in Florida.

Beyond the dollars, the greatest gift she received from the scholarship was the confidence to go after what she wanted. “I feel like I have a team of cheerleaders in my corner,” she describes, declaring that she feels obligated to succeed and pay it forward.

And she already is paying it forward, seizing an opportunity that presented itself at a First One campaign event for the foundation. It was there that Emily met a young man who was the eldest of 12 siblings whose life had a rough start with a teenage mother and trouble around every corner. He shared that sometimes he gets lonely and wants to give up on his dream of education.

As Megan Warlow was the cheerleader for Emily, she became the cheerleader for this young man, sending him the link to apply for scholarships and offering to be that friend in need when the going gets tough.

She credits the scholarship with helping to shape this outlook. “It has created a momentum that carries me and affects all those around me.”

She realizes that scholarships are a blessing that can help dreams become a reality and have a positive effect on the community. “I feel that the more skilled and educated people become, the more they contribute to making our society better as a whole. Often without the support, many talented individuals will not reach their full potential because they cannot afford to go to college.”

Jessica Alexander is another 2012-2013 recipient. She is finishing up her core classes, currently with a 4.0 GPA, and she hopes to find “a job that I love” after graduation.

She was referred to the online scholarship application through the Answer Center at the college. “When I saw the foundation scholarship, I figured I would give it a shot.”

And quite a shot it was. “Amazing!” she recounts. The scholarship surpassed anything she could imagine and provided almost a year’s worth of schooling for her.

Like Emily, Jessica comments that the financial burden is what keeps so many people from getting a degree. Thanks to her benefactor, she has peace of mind and can focus on her studies.

She thinks that scholarships are important because they reassure students that they are headed in the right direction. “All students have a time when they wonder if they are on the right path and when you receive a scholarship, it makes you feel like you are in the right place.”

And after graduation, expect to see both of them at reunions and alumni functions. Jessica says, “I will definitely keep in touch with the dental hygiene program. I have had such a great experience so far at Valencia. This year has changed me so much and I know over the next few years I will grow even more. I will always have the relationships and experiences to take with me.”

From Emily, “I definitely plan to keep in touch with the dental hygiene program after I leave. My entire experience with Valencia has been about making connections and feeling like part of a family committed to helping everyone succeed. At each event I have attended, I have seen the dedication that alumni have shown to their alma mater and I know that I will want to do the same!”

For all interested in the October reunion, the event will be held from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Special Events Center on the college’s West Campus. Please RSVP by Oct. 7 to 407-582-3426 or alumni@valenciacollege.edu.

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