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Dental Hygiene Class of 2020’s Long-Awaited Pinning Ceremony

photo of graduates with text: Rio Salado College 2020 Cohort Dental Pinning Ceremony

Dental Hygiene Class of 2020’s Long-Awaited Pinning Ceremony

Capping off a year of teaching others how to create bright and healthy smiles during a time where finding a reason to smile was difficult.

The long-awaited dental hygiene pinning ceremony for the graduating cohort of 2020 took place in May 2021. Countless hours were dedicated to calibrations, meetings, adjustments, and research to ensure the safety of all patients, students, faculty, and staff.

This ceremony served as a representation of crossing a finish line that seemed so far out of reach when it was postponed last December.

The graduating Class of 2020 is the first cohort of dental hygiene students at the college to successfully complete a program while meeting clinical requirements during a worldwide pandemic.

Rio Salado’s dental hygiene program includes five alumni instructors who returned to teach after graduating.

“The alumni instructors continue to enrich the eager minds of each new class, implementing all the skills, techniques, and knowledge that was once bestowed onto them,” said Susan Fuller, senior instructor and Clinic 1 Coordinator.

“This has created an enormous positive feedback loop of affirmation and familial support, which is what makes our program so unique and special. What better way to learn than from someone who was once a student in the exact same position?”

These sentiments were echoed by Erika Mavashev, senior administrative specialist for the program.

“Our alumni instructors, along with Rio Salado’s diligent staff and faculty, help motivate every student to become innovative, compassionate, and resourceful registered dental hygienists.”

Andrea Boles, a member of the Class of 2000, was part of the second cohort to graduate from Rio’s dental hygiene program.

After seven years of clinical experience, Boles returned to Rio’s dental clinic to teach as an alumni instructor. She has taught 12 graduated cohorts over the past decade. 

“This is a perfect example of an inspired student returning to their roots to naturally become a collaborative colleague,” Fuller said.

The ceremony was held outdoors at Rio Salado College and featured speeches by Fuller and Boles, graduate gift boxes and the pinning itself which symbolizes the graduates’ readiness to care for the community in a professional manner. Other highlights:

  • Class of 2020 President Amy Walton received the Colgate Student Total Achievement Recognition Award  “for compassion in patient care, enthusiasm for community service and dedication to and employment of the profession of Dental Hygiene.”
  • Graduate Korina Garcia accepted the Hu-Friedy Golden Scaler Award “in recognition of a Dental Hygiene Student who has consistently demonstrated high achievement and outstanding clinical performance throughout the Dental Hygiene Program.”

“The Dental Hygiene program would also like to recognize President Kate Smith, the Rio Salado Alumni Association, Interim Director Patricia Price, Instructional Services Coordinator Shanna Jennings, and former Director Holly Harper for their continued support of both our students and program,” Mavashev said.

Price also thanked the program’s instructors.

“I would like to offer a special thank you to our adjunct faculty for their hard work, dedication and time invested into the program and the extra care provided to help the Class of 2020 achieve their goals,” Price said.

Submitted by Erika Mavashev, Administrative Specialist Senior

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