Ann Arbor, MI — March 14, 2014 — Four dental hygiene students at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry working on a Master of Science degree have been awarded fellowships and research grants from the Rackham Graduate School and the American Dental Education Association.
Stefanie Marx has received a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant to support her thesis research. Marx’s research focuses on women with von Willebrand Disease (vWD), a bleeding disorder that affects blood’s ability to clot. There is debate whether vWD affects gingival bleeding or if gingival bleeding is due to poor oral hygiene.
Marx is also the recipient of the 2014 American Dental Education Association/Crest Oral B Laboratories Scholarship for dental hygiene students pursuing an academic career. A student in the on-campus program, Marx will receive her degree in August.
Diana Kott and Iwonka Eagle received Rackham Non-Traditional Fellowships which are awarded to students who resumed their education following an extended absence in their pursuit of higher education.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry in 1998, Kott worked in several dental offices in Michigan while raising her two children. Initially, she thought about becoming a physician’s assistant.
But three years after having her third child, Kott changed her mind when she saw an advertisement in the dental hygiene magazine, ACCESS, which had information about the School of Dentistry’s online master’s degree program. She said when she saw the ad, “I knew then what I wanted to do -- teach dental hygiene.” Initially, Kott thought about enrolling in the master’s degree program, but did not want to relocate to take classes in Ann Arbor.
In late 2011, dental hygiene instructor Karen Ridley called Kott to tell her about the School of Dentistry's new online master’s degree program in dental hygiene. Kott applied and was accepted. She will receive her Master of Science degree in August. She plans to become a part-time instructor and continue working at the Coast Guard dental clinic at Selfridge Air National Guard base.
Iwonka Eagle has been working as a dental hygienist at a private practice in Ann Arbor since earning her bachelor’s degree from U-M in 2004. She enrolled in the online master’s degree program in 2012.
“I continued my education because I wanted to educate patients about what they could do to improve their oral health,” Eagle said. “I love clinical practice. However, I think it would be even more satisfying to use my knowledge and clinical experiences to teach students who are interested in becoming future dental hygienists.”
Eagle said the online master’s degree program appealed to her because it allows her to continue her education, remain employed and spend time with her husband and two sons. She is scheduled to receive her degree in December.
Angela Mills received a King-Chavez-Parks Faculty Fellowship. The Fellowship was established to increase the number of underrepresented candidates pursuing teaching careers in postsecondary education. She is among the first group of online students who will graduate with a master’s degree in dental hygiene.
“It was not expected or even dreamed of, for a woman in my family to pursue higher education,” Mills said. She’s the first in her family to graduate from a university or college.
After completing high school, Mills became a cosmetologist. As a single mother, she wanted to enhance her education and set an example for her daughter about the value of an education. Mills earned a certificate in dental assisting in 2006 and then applied to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry for admission to the dental hygiene program. She was accepted and received her bachelor’s degree from U-M in 2010, when her daughter was five years old.
Since then, Mills has been working as a dental hygienist in a private practice in St. Clair Shores. Mills has inspired her daughter with her determination and perseverance. “My daughter, now eight, loves school. She knows education is a high priority in my life and hers,” Mills said.
After receiving her master’s degree in dental hygiene in August, Mills plans to become a dental hygiene educator. “Earning my master’s degree will help me to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming an educator,” she said.