Well we made it! We persevered through all the exams, practicums, papers, presentations and patients. We fulfilled the requirements and passed the classes. We have completed the national boards and are graduating from dental hygiene school. We will ALL pass the clinical boards in march and will be licensed hygienists by summer! What a journey it has been these past 16 months. We came in as strangers and now here we sit as a family. The bonds of friendship we have formed with each other are bonds that will last a life time. We have been through so much together. We’ve seen marriages and separations; pregnancies and deaths; joy and pain, moments of trials and moments of triumph. We have always been there to support each other and build each other up when we needed it most. I know that I have learned something from each and every one of you and have grown to become a better person because of it. I am honored to have been your class president these last two terms. I don’t know how much I was able to do for you all but I you have done more for me than you will ever know.
I was thinking back to the first time we took x-rays and it took us hours just to take an FMS. And when we thought there was no way we would ever be able to tell the working end on a gracey or how and where to use it for that matter. And then watching the instructor find 8 pieces of calculus on a quad we thought we had done great on! I was thinking of all those times when we thought that the instructors should just give us a break and give us credit because we were close enough. And as I thought back to all the experiences that we had where we thought we would never get it and I realized how lucky we were that our instructors didn’t give in. I would like to take a moment to recognize all of our wonderful faculty. Thank you for never giving up on us and never giving in. I am grateful that you never lowered your standards so that we would rise to the occasion and become the competent clinicians we are today. I hope that as we go out into the world that we will continue to strive for excellence and that we will never settle for less than our best. I am sure that if we look at a situation and say “what would I do if I were being graded on this?” we will be much more likely to make the right choice.
Now as we graduate and move on to the next stages of our lives, some of us will go on to become educators or researchers. Some will further their education to get their masters or PhDs or even go on to Dental school. Some may choose to do alternative practice or extended functions. Some may become leaders for our profession at state and national levels. Many of us will be perfectly content in private practice. But no matter what we choose to do after we leave San Joaquin Valley College, we can all make a difference in the lives of those around us.
I would like to share one of my favorite little stories with you.
“One day a man was walking on a beach at low tide. All the way up and down the beach, for as far as he could see, there were starfish washed up on the shore, left to die by the receding water. As he walked along the water's edge, he saw a little boy bending down, picking up the starfish, and throwing them back into the ocean.
As the man approached the little boy he said, "Why do you waste your efforts trying to save these starfish? Don't you see that what you are doing doesn't matter, since there are too many starfish for you to possibly save them all?"
With that the little boy bent down, picked up a starfish and hurled it back into the ocean. Then he looked up at the man and said, "It mattered to that one."
My hope is that we can all strive to treat each of our patients with this in mind. I hope that we can be someone they trust and depend on and that we can make a difference to them. I’m sure we won’t be able to change the lives of every patient we come in contact with but you never know what a kind word, a friendly smile, and words of encouragement may mean to someone.
As we move on to the next stage of our careers, let us not fear change but embrace it. We must not run from adversity, criticism, and uncertainty, we must learn from it. We cannot grow as professionals and improve upon ourselves until we have faced some challenges. I encourage you all to ponder what you believe in, ponder what you stand for and to find the courage and strength to stand tall and defend that no matter what situation you are faced with. If we make up our minds now what kind of a dental hygienist we want to be, we will have a much easier time achieving it. Like the song says, “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”
I know that all the opportunities and experiences we have had both clinically and academically here at SJVC will ensure us a long and successful career in dental hygiene. I am proud of my emeralds and I look forward to seeing the great things we will all accomplish in the future.Wherever life takes us and in whatever different directions we may go, we will always be the Emerald Class of 2011 and we will always be a family.