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DDHS members mentor dental hygiene seniors

DDHS Pizza Mentoring Pizza PartyFor nine years, members of the Dallas Dental Hygienists’ Society have committed themselves to mentoring Texas A&M Health Science Center-Baylor College of Dentistry’s dental hygiene students. On Oct. 28, this year’s mentors and seniors in the college’s Caruth School of Dental Hygiene met for the first time when they gathered to exchange contact information during a pizza party.

Funded entirely by DDHS, the mentoring program began in fall 2001. Senior students are paired with practicing dental hygienists who help them through the trials of dental hygiene classes and boards. Mentors also coach the students on aspects of their professional lives.

“This is the longest running mentoring program in the country, and other societies, schools and organizations have sought our counsel for their programs,” said Lana Crawford ’68,’72 (DHyg), a founding committee member. “I continue to participate in the program because I want to make sure our Caruth seniors are given every opportunity to succeed.”

Crawford served as mentor to Chrissy Samples ’07 (DHyg).  Three years later, Samples chairs the current mentoring committee that includes Crawford and Kim Ward ’09 (DHyg).

“I’m so proud of Chrissy,” Crawford said. “She appreciated the value of the mentoring program so much that she returned to mentor those who are following her, as is Kim who volunteered to serve on the committee during her first year of practice.”

Samples credits the mentoring program with developing strong leadership traits in the students. “Many of DDHS’ current leaders were mentored through this program,” said Samples, who also is president-elect of the society. “Some have gone further to work at the Texas Dental Hygienists’ Association level.”

Dr. Janice DeWald ’95 (MS), professor and chair of the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene, appreciates the impact mentors have on the seniors. “They get encouragement from someone who has been in their shoes, and they get a glimpse of what the real world offers them as professionals,” she said. “The seniors had a great time at the party and are eager to develop relationships with their mentors.”

The pizza party was sponsored in part by Colgate. Samples said DDHS presented each student and mentor with educational materials to use for their patients, courtesy of the company.