Hard work, resilience and determination are just a few words that describe Stacey, a dental hygiene student at Howard Community College (HCC). Stacey was born and raised in Howard County and attended HCC after graduating high school. In 2009, she began working alongside an orthodontist and found that dental hygiene was her passion. However, the dental hygiene program at HCC was a challenge for her.
“My educational experience was tough. I never was good at school and had a hard time staying focused and getting good grades,” said Stacey. “Studying was hard for me and I literally had to break down the information step by step to allow me to digest the information.”
Stacey temporarily left HCC to pursue a psychology degree at a different school. However, she never let go of her desire to pursue a career in dental hygiene, and eventually decided to return to HCC. She re-applied and was accepted into the program.
While at HCC, she took advantage of opportunities to connect peers also pursuing a career in dental hygiene and network with people in the field as a member of the Student American Dental HygienistsAssociation and the American Dental Hygienists Association. Then, in her last year of the dental hygiene program, Stacey was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Burkitt’s Lymphoma, which put completing her degree and her graduation plans at risk. But, she was determined to keep up with her classes throughout her treatment.
“I knew it was going to be hard but, I worked way too hard to get where I was and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.” Stacey has been cancer free since February 14, 2019 and graduated from HCC’s dental hygiene program in May of 2019.After graduation, Stacey plans on starting her career and returning to school to get a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Her long term goal is to be successful in her career field and participate in outreach and service programs.
“I hope to teach and aid the community in maintaining good oral health so they can live a healthier and brighter future. My goal is to learn from the community on how I can better myself, my knowledge, and my skills as a dental hygienist.”Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.