The value of
education was instilled in me by my parents at a very young age. By high school
I had established myself as a disciplined student who made good grades. As high
school graduation approached in 1978, I started to think more seriously about
my career choices. My father tried to guide me with a simple solution to narrow
down the career options. He said, “Just choose any area of study in the
sciences to ensure job marketability and financial independence.”
I took him a
bit too literally.
After taking an
anthropology and archeology course my freshman year of college, I decided anthropology
satisfied the “sciences” criteria my dad suggested. I graduated four years
later with a major in anthropology (social sciences), with a minor in geology.
I spent a short
time as a high school science teacher before a friend’s husband encouraged me
to apply for a position representing a pharmaceutical company. My science
background was a door opener, and I suddenly found myself on the road for weeks
at a time. I soon realized I did not enjoy being away so much, especially
because my (then) fiancée also traveled for his career.
In 1992, my
youngest brother, who is a dentist and very wise, recognized my dilemma and
suggested I think about applying to a dental hygiene program. It sounded like a
good option for me. It was a two-year program, I would be involved with the
community and helping people, work a flexible schedule, and be home when my
husband was in town. I had found what seemed like the perfect solution.
Success! I started the program at Saint Petersburg College School of Dental Hygiene,
and left orientation feeling excited to participate in a professional program
with such a dedicated and bright group of individuals. I graduated in 1995, and
worked in a family practice in the community as a clinical hygienist for seven years.
In 2001, I had the opportunity to return to Saint Petersburg College as an adjunct
faculty member. Teaching has been an incredible experience; it has allowed me
to share my love of this great profession with so many others.
years, my local dental hygiene association has been a great inspiration to me. Being
involved has allowed me to tap into skills I did not know I had. I have been
active in fundraising events for scholarships and community service for children’s
preventive dental care. I also participated in a dental hygiene fellowship that
allowed me the opportunity to mentor others.
I have learned
so many life skills from other hygienists over the years, and I am so thankful
to have landed on a career path that has opened so many doors for me—both professionally