Eight dental assisting graduates

Graduates (from left): Jesula Bellegarde, Yaritza Davila, Danai Morales, Maria Galarza, Maria Negrete, Brooke Shelton, Liliana Ruiz, and Riley White

South Florida State College honored eight graduates of its Dental Assisting program in a traditional pinning ceremony in the SFSC University Center Auditorium on July 13.

Receiving their pins were Jesula Bellegarde, Yaritza M. Davila, Maria G. Galarza, Danai M. Morales, Maria Y. Negrete, Liliana D. Ruiz, Brooke Shelton, and Riley White. 

Keynote speaker Bobby Sconyers, SFSC professor of dental assisting, became a dental assistant in 1977 when he joined the United States army. While in the army, he became a dental hygienist and a dental lab technician.  

“You leave as highly trained dental assistants,” Sconyers said to the graduates. “Now your job is to be the best assistant possible. But don’t stop there. Continue to challenge yourselves. Keep your curiosity, keep learning and growing.” 

In her final presentation to the graduates, class president Danai Morales said, “Mr. Sconyers taught us everything, pushed us, and had confidence that we would all do well. All this has helped us make it to where we are now—the graduating dental assisting class of 2017. This is the close of one chapter and the beginning of another. No matter where it takes us in life, I hope that one day we can reunite and have crazy stories to tell. But until then, I wish all of you the best in everything you do.” 

During the ceremony, graduates accepted their dental assisting pins from Dr. Deborah Milliken, chair of SFSC’s Dental Education program. Before pinning each graduate, Dr. Milliken recited the poem “Be Someone,” an inspirational verse by an unknown author. The poem encouraged each student to be the best person they could be and all the gifts of life would return to them. 

“This class is absolutely the best class I’ve ever had, to a person,” Sconyers said. “When I asked them to study, they studied. When I asked them to practice, they practiced over and over the processes they needed to master. This generation is absolutely amazing. I’ve told them a million times, ‘You’re the best students I’ve ever had.’ They make me want to be a better professor because of how hard they work.” 

Upon completing the Dental Assisting program, graduates can work as Certified Dental Assistants by passing the Dental Assisting National Board examination and qualify for Expanded Functions Dental Assisting Certification as well as Orthodontic Assistant Certification. 

SFSC also offers a two-year Associate in Science degree program in dental hygiene. Upon completing this program, graduates become dental hygienists by passing the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination and the Florida State Clinical Licensure Examination.