“It is difficult for me to verbalize how much I appreciate the support awarded to me from The Able Trust. I have struggled my entire life in school because of my learning disability and never thought College could be a reality, much less a program as rigorous as Dental Hygiene. I have worked extremely hard to get where I am today and your support through this grant allowed me to receive supplies needed for my success. I cannot begin to tell you what a benefit this has been for me and how the grant has helped to change my life. It has allowed me to fulfill my dreams of becoming a Dental Hygienist. I am now working in public health and using the skills I have learned to give back to my community.
Mother Teresa said, “Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person.” Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk believes, sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smiles can be the source of your joy. However, what happens when a person is too ashamed to smile because they are not educated in the basics of oral hygiene? How do they give their gift and express their joy?
In Public health, I see many patients with different types of disabilities and I believe all of them should be educated in oral hygiene. Your support allowed me the opportunity to receive learning supplies that enable me to complete the dental hygiene program and go into the community as an educator or oral health. According to the national Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “American children ages 2 to 11 who live below the poverty level are twice as likely as their more affluent peers to have untreated tooth decay because of lack or oral health education and funds. Tooth decay has become the single most common chronic childhood disease”.
I know this statistic too well and want to keep everyone from experiencing the shame I dealt with as a child who had decaying and missing teeth. I spent most of my adolescent years being ashamed of the way I looked. I tis the single reasons I decided to become a Dental Hygienist. Tooth decay is a preventable disease and Dental Hygienist, through education, hold the key to change the way society looks at Oral Health. We can make a difference in lives and give people a reason to smile. With the help of the Able Trust, I am now an educator, who helps others to give their gift and express their joy through smiling.
If Mother Teresa is right and getting a smile is a gift, then giving the gift of smiling by education others has to be the present of a lifetime and that makes me smile! My determination was the vehicle that got me through the Dental Hygiene program despite my learning disability and the support I received through this grant helped me to achieve all my dreams and The Able Trust Grant was the fuel. I am thankful for St. Petersburg College and all that The Able Trust Grant is “Able” to do for students with disabilities. I hope that every time support is granted to a student with a disability, The Able Trust remembers what a difference it made in my life. With many thanks for Stefanie and Kelley for all they have done for me and continue to do.
Sincerely with a Smile;
Deanna Shannon RDH”