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While I may practice dentistry as a profession, I am first and foremost a wife and mother. If it wasn’t for my husband, Bryan, I’d have neither patients nor patience. In the early days of our marriage, he was the one who recommended that I enroll at CNCC for general studies. Now, twenty-eight years later, we are happily married and have four children: Anna Marie (married to Neil Watson and graduating with honors this fall), Bryan Nicholas (an engineering major), Gabriel (a budding football star), and Teresa (a cowgirl through and through). Without their support and encouragement along the journey, I would not be the dentist I am today.
That journey began back in the cold winter of January 1985 at CNCC. Having been born and raised in the tropics of South America, I could hardly imagine what it would be like to endure the arctic winter, especially when temperatures reached sixty-below! I remember going to the cafeteria and wondering if the school heaters were working or not. But no matter how cold the weather got, CNCC received me warmly with welcome and open arms. I became a regular at the learning assistance center where I would go to polish my English speaking skills with Dr. Dick Binsfield, my tutor. We had quite a few laughs as I learned how to better pronounce words like “tomatoes.”
In spring, I applied and was accepted to the dental hygiene program. That fall, I started and had a great time learning under instructors Mark Patterson, Connie Sharyga, Marley Tobian, Clark Crookston and Dick Binsfield. They were always supportive, but nevertheless challenging, always pushing us to do our best. They were determined to see us succeed and, in this way, CNCC became the springboard to many professional successes in my life.
In the fall of 1986, I applied to the University Of Colorado School Of Dentistry and upon graduating from dental hygiene; I rested for a few weeks and headed off to Denver. There, in my senior year of dental school, Anna was born. What beautiful gift motherhood is! Shortly after, I graduated and we decided that I should take a position working for the Indian Health Service as a Commissioned Officer. This provided a great start to my career as they offered student loan repayment and allowed us to serve in rural areas (a feature very appealing to us).
We first lived in Utah at Ft. Duchesne where I worked with the Northern Ute’s. It was during my service here that we joyfully had our second child, Nicholas. After two and half years, we were transferred to Kayenta, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation near the Grand Canyon. It was a beautiful place to live, but I soon was selected for Long Term Training. We moved to St. Paul where I attended the University of Minnesota followed by a twenty-six month residency in Pediatric Dentistry. After this, I returned to service on the Navajo Reservation, finally settling in Farmington, NM where Gabriel and Teresa were born.
In 2005, I obtained board certification and in 2009, I was promoted to the rank of Captain. While I have had many opportunities as a Commissioned Officer, few adventures capture the spirit of my field of dentistry better than those that would make my DH instructors proud, such as using my dental forensic certificate in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While I have experienced my fair share of challenges as a dentist, I can honestly say that it has been a rewarding career. I have been able to travel the world and expand my horizons (literally with my recent tour of duty to Alaska’s polar bear country). Most importantly, though, it has allowed me to make a positive difference in the lives of my family and my patients (even if they do try my patience sometimes).
The Spring 2012 National Park Ranger Scholarship was awarded to Monroe Township, NJ resident Matthew Horsch. The $500 scholarship is awarded fall and spring semesters to one NPS student who demonstrates the Grand Lake Rotary Club’s mission of “Service above Self.” Congratulations Matt!
This year’s Brett Stearns Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Craig resident Audria Herrera. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded yearly to one student selected by the CNCC Foundation Scholarship Committee. Audria was selected based on her essay “What do you feel is the greatest discovery in either Math or Science.” Congratulations to Audria for being selected the 2011-2012 Brett Stearns Memorial Scholarship winner!
This year’s Albin Salton Nursing Scholarship was awarded to Craig Resident Audria Herrera. The endowed scholarship is awarded yearly to one nursing student who is enrolled in the CNCC Nursing Program and who has the dedication, desire, and ability to achieve a career in clinical nursing. Congratulations Audria!
The Spring 2012 Viola Moore Searcy Memorial Aviation Scholarship was awarded to Jennifer Rea on April 12th at the Honors Banquet at the Rangely Campus. The $1,500 scholarship is awarded to one female aviation student who is seeking her commercial pilot’s license. Congratulations Jennifer!
The Spring CNCC General Aviation Scholarship was awarded to students Jennesee Forster and Jennifer Rea at the April 12th Honors Banquet on the Rangely campus. The $1,000 scholarship is to assist students who have demonstrated the desire, ability and determination to complete the Aviation program at Colorado Northwestern Community College. Normally, the scholarship is provided to one student, but CNCC Foundation Board member/Scholarship Committee member Peggy Rector recognized the outstanding attributes or both applicants and provided the additional scholarship funding to allow both ladies to receive the award. Congratulations Jennesse and Jennifer!