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By Christina Ellis

Andrea Garrity heard the daunting rumors going around campus. Her classmates warned her that she would have to quit her job, say goodbye to her social life, and prepare to spend all of her free time focusing on school. She knew there was some validity to the rumors but she was determined not to let the warnings dissuade her from attaining her goal. Despite the rumors, Garrity applied for the Dental Hygiene program at Camden County College. With a distraught look on her face, she recalled how she felt before she knew she was accepted, “They only accept 22 students. I was so nervous waiting to know whether or not I was one of them.”

By the end of this month, Garrity will have completed her second semester as a freshman in the Dental Hygiene program. She attributed some of her success to being part of the Dental Hygiene Club. “We brainstorm ideas on how to meet the requirements for the number of patients we have to bring into the clinic. We all try to help each other out.” Every three weeks club members get together for the Student Member of the American Dental Hygienists Association (SADHA) meetings. They discuss upcoming dental conferences, events at CCC, and how to help each other meet their patient requirements. “The club meetings are a great chance to get to know people who are going to be in the same profession. They’re good for networking.”

The senior students direct the entire meeting with only minimal input from the teachers. Garrity said, “The seniors tell us about upcoming events at CCC that the club will participate in and they give us a lot of great advice on how to meet our requirements.” The Dental Hygiene students have all of their classes in the same building, but Garrity said the only time they get to see each other is when they pass in the halls. “The meetings are the one place where both classes meet. We get to learn a lot from the seniors.”

Last month Garrity was given the opportunity to go to the Dental Hygiene Convention in Edison, NJ. “Freshman students usually aren’t given the chance to attend conferences, but this year it was different.” She spoke enthusiastically about her experience at the conference. “It was really cool. The author of our textbook, Olga Ibsen, was the speaker and she showed us pictures and explained the different cases she came across while practicing in the field. I learned a lot at the conference.”

All of Garrity’s experiences at the meetings, events, and conferences will help to prepare her for next semester when she becomes a senior. “Next semester I’m going to have to do what they are doing now. The seniors run the meetings without much help from the teachers,” Garrity said. “You really have to know your stuff.”

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