I first learned about the Universities of Shady Grove (USG) through a University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) Clinical Dental Hygiene Leader (CDHL) Track program information session. This program allows students who have previously obtained a bachelor’s degree, to apply and earn a dental hygiene B.S and M.S. dual degree in just two years.
I selected the CDHL program at UMSOD because I am very passionate about helping patients learn about their oral health, how it affects their overall health and so that I can advocate for patients inside and outside an office setting. I started my dental educational journey at a vocational technical high school in Delaware, where at 16 years old I became a radiology certified dental assistant. At the time, I had the opportunity to work in a private practice during my last two years of high school.
Following this, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration of pre-dental studies at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. Being in the dental field has been my goal, and dream, ever since I was 8 years old and while I learned more about the profession and about its connection to public health, I discovered that dental hygiene and preventative dental care was where I needed to be. Thus, I was beyond ecstatic to learn about the School of Dentistry’s CDHL program and the opportunities it opens during the program duration, and upon graduation for dental hygienists.
Our program is taught in USG’s Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education building, which features an outstanding dental clinic that is equipped with the most modern dental technology. The resources provided in this state-of-art facility allows students to practice and learn the skills they need when treating patients in the community, not only during our time at USG, but also in the future. During our two years at UMSOD at USG, our faculty and staff prepare us to provide outstanding care and guide us in how to become providers who will be able to bridge the gap between dentistry and medicine. Students who graduate from the program are able to work in areas of a private practice, research, education, public health departments, as well as non-traditional settings like pediatric or OB/GYN practices — even as far as work in public health or dental legislation. There is an enormous amount of possibility in this field that allows you to make a real difference in the overall health of your surrounding community by bringing awareness to the importance of preventative care in oral health.
My future career goals and plans upon graduation is to work in a private practice first, and then ultimately work in a non-traditional setting such as a hospital, pediatrics and special needs, or a prenatal office. I am also passionate about educating patients on their oral health and providing care for a diverse population of different socioeconomic levels. I believe in providing affordable and accessible care to everyone in the community, especially to those who may be vulnerable or from low socioeconomic statuses. Everyone deserves care and I hope to be able to reach areas in communities who need this care, as well as advocate for equal access to care and treatment.
As far as organizational involvement, I am the Dental Hygiene Representative for the University of Maryland Special Care Dental Association (SCDA) and a Fundraising Officer and Coordinator for the University of Maryland’s Student American Dental Hygiene Association (SADHA). At the USG campus specifically, there are many opportunities to be a part of chapters, organizations and clubs, and I hope to have the chance to explore these during my time here as a student.
Before I graduate in August of 2023, I plan to participate in specialized care patient rotations such as pediatrics, prenatal, special needs, and the AIDS/HIV PLUS clinic at the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s main campus. As part of the dual degree master’s portion of my program, I have the unique opportunity to conduct a capstone project where I will be collaborating with researchers, specialists and a plethora of health professionals to conduct a project of my interest starting in the summer of 2022. This will expose me to the possibilities and fields we can participate in during and upon graduating from UMSOD.
I am truly enjoying every moment of being a UMSOD CDHL student here at the USG campus, and I am so excited for each day and what the future holds!