Thursday, May 17, 2012 (Bronx, NY) - Like many students who decide to enroll in college, Hector Ortega was excited to begin his journey; he just didn’t know exactly where to start. Ortega eventually decided to enroll in the Dental Hygiene Program at Hostos Community College in 1976 and became its first male graduate.
Ortega returned to Hostos to retell his success story at the 41st Annual Pinning and Candle Lighting Ceremony for the Hostos Dental Hygiene Class of 2012 on May 11 at the Repertory Theater.
As the key note speaker, Ortega told the 34 members of the graduating class that entering the career was the best decision he ever made. He said none of it would have been possible had he not made the decision to enter the Hostos program.
“I consider myself a healer now,” Ortega said. “People come to me with bleeding or swollen gums and whether it takes one visit or several to solve their problems, that is when I shine.”
Ortega now works in the Manhattan VA Medical Center where he said he takes great pride in helping servicemen and servicewomen.
Students earned Associate Degrees in Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) and are prepared to become registered dental hygienists. As part of the program, students provide dental hygiene care, at the Hostos Dental Hygiene Clinic, for patients of all ages under the direct guidance and supervision of licensed professional dental hygienists and dentists.
Two academic years and one summer are required to complete the 70-credit degree program and graduates are eligible to transfer to senior colleges.
The ceremony itself wasn’t unlike other graduation ceremonies. Certificates were handed out and friends and family members shouted out from the audience when their favorites were announced.
But it was different, too, for a program that has become one of Hostos’ brightest. Graduates held lit candles as they recited the Dental Hygiene Oath and a video montage featured each student thanking family, friends and classmates for helping them reach their goals.
There was a particularly heartfelt moment when graduates Nalini Jodha and Robson Occena and other classmates and staff remembered fellow classmate Dwayne Paltoo, who passed away in June of last year.
While the students overcame a lot to earn their diplomas, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Christine Mangino told the graduates they should be proud of surviving all the late night studying and hours working in the library. “You made it … always remember this moment and appreciate it.”
Associate Professor and Unit Coordinator Joyce Dais told the group to “keep moving forward” and aim for bachelor’s and even master’s degrees. Quoting famed former Notre Dame Football coach Lou Holtz, Dais added:
“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
DENTAL HYGIENE PINNING CEREMONY AWARDS PRESENTATION
The Stevenson Award is sponsored by The New York State Dental Association and was presented by Dr. Elvir Dincer to Ms. Annamaria Geller Vatai. The Stevenson Award is presented by the New York State Dental Association to the student with the highest GPA.
The President's Award is sponsored by The Dental Hygiene Association of the State of New York and was presented by Professor Daughn Thomas to Ms. Julie Rodrigues. The President's Award is presented to the student who has actively participated in professional activities and has demonstrated a commitment to the future of the dental hygiene profession.
The Clinical Proficiency Award is sponsored by The Dental Hygiene Association of the City of New York and was presented by Ms. Janine Love, the President of the Dental Hygienists’ Association for the City of New York to Ms. Yuteska Garcia. The Clinical Proficiency Award is presented by the DHACNY to the student exhibiting a high sense of professionalism as well as superior clinical skills.
The Golden Scaler Award is sponsored by Hu-Friedy instrument manufacturer and was presented by Professor Alida Pastoriza Maldonado to Ms. Franciocasta Estévez Rodríguez. The Golden Scaler Award is presented by Hu-Friedy to the student with outstanding qualities in rendering patient care.
The Dental Hygiene Alumni Award was presented by Dr. Alida Pastoriza Maldonado to Ms. Rabia Tariq, Ms. Nella Vivon and Mr. Robson Occena. The Dental Hygiene Alumni Award is selected by the students in their graduating class.
The S.T.A.R. Award is sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals and was presented by Professor Cynthia Howard to Ms. Dahiana Gonzalez. The S.T.A.R.T Award is presented by Colgate to the student who has demonstrated dedication and enjoyment of the dental hygiene profession, exhibited compassion in patient care and showed enthusiasm for community service.
The Westchester Award is presented by The Westchester Dental Hygienists’ Association to student living in Westchester or Putnam County and was presented by Professor Cinthya Howard to Ms. Julie Rodrigues. The Westchester award is presented to a student living in Westchester or Putnam County, who has been involved in community service, and good academic standing.
The Dr. Sammy J. Seals Periodontal Case Study Award was presented by Professor Petal Leu-Wai-See to Ms. Adela Lewis. The Dr. Sammy J. Seals Periodontal Case Study Award is presented to the senior student demonstrating excellence in content, effort, and presentation of a periodontal case study.
The Empire State Academy Cosmetic Dentistry Award was presented by Professor Melanie Ojeda-Alviar to Ms. Chen Yanqun. The Empire State Academy Cosmetic Dentistry Award is presented to the student who has demonstrated great interest in the area of cosmetic dentistry and incorporates its value through patient education.
The Patterson Award is sponsored by Patterson Dental Supply and was presented by Professor Julie Bencosme to Ms. Annamaria Geller-Vatai. The Patterson Award is presented by Patterson Dental Supply to a student demonstrating overall outstanding proficiency and shown leadership potential in the dental hygiene profession.
The Johnson & Johnson Award was presented by Janet Finkle, a Johnson & Johnson representative to Ms. Raine Li. The Johnson & Johnson Award "Excellence in Dental Hygiene Award" is presented to a graduating dental hygiene student demonstrating high scholastic ability as well as outstanding professional manner when dealing with patients and fellow classmates.
The professor Anita Cunningham Patient Completion Award was presented by Professor Mary Manning to Ms. Franciocasta Estévez Rodríguez and Ms. Danielle Seta.
Other awards were presented to the following students:
The Bronze Medal: Ms. Alma Lomeda
The Silver Medal: Ms. Yuteska García
The Gold Medal: Ms. Franciocasta Estevez Rodríguez
About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968. In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in the fall of 1970 to the spring 2012 enrollment of over 7,000 students. The college also serves an additional 10,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.
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