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“I’ve heard that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,” says Dr. L. Kay Mash, associate professor in restorative sciences. “That’s how I feel about coming to the dental school.”
As course director for the first- and second-year preclinical operative courses, Mash has spent the past 25 years at the dental school because of her students. She is an enthusiastic educator and believes HSC-BCD has the best dental students in the world.
“I love seeing the progression of students’ learning,” says Mash. “They begin the process often not knowing any terminology or how to even put the bur in the handpiece, and then in what seems to me to be a very short amount of time, they are ‘walking the walk and talking the talk.’”
Dr. Christine Beninger, assistant professor in restorative sciences, describes Mash as a tough taskmaster, but for the right reasons.
“She wants students to be skilled dentists who care enough to give their patients high quality care both in dental school and in practice after graduation,” says Beninger. “To that end, she demands that students do their best work rather than settling for merely acceptable.”
When she is not teaching dental students, Mash teaches art and art history to fifth- and sixth-graders at a parochial school. She helps direct a one-week art camp each summer and leads children’s art trips to Europe.
She has been married for more than 30 years to Anthony Aragona, an architect and her college sweetheart from the University of Arkansas. They have two sons: Ash, a third-year dental student at HSC-BCD, and Andrew, a freshman at the University of Arkansas.
Mash says she is grateful to the dental school for the opportunity to teach. She recalls interviewing with Dr. Max Largent, then associate dean for academic affairs, for a teaching position shortly after receiving her dental degree. When asked how long she had been considering a career in dental education, Mash replied, “About 30 minutes, sir.
“Despite this obvious blunder, I was hired,” she says. “And after 25 years in dental education, I’m very happy I took this career path.”