Delta Dental endowment recognizes 8 Colorado Northwestern Community College scholars | CraigDailyPress.com

Delta Dental endowment recognizes 8 Colorado Northwestern Community College scholars

Craig Press staff report

CNCC Rangely

RANGELY — Eight scholars of Colorado Northwestern Community College’s dental hygiene program were among the first to benefit from a $1.5 million endowment made in 2017 by Delta Dental — the largest nonprofit dental benefits provider in the state.

Delta Dental Endowed Scholarships, the result of the 2017 gift, provides financial assistance for dental hygiene students at three Colorado Community College System colleges. For 2018-2019, Delta Dental also endowed eight scholars at Pueblo Community College and five scholars at Community College of Denver. It also provided support to one faculty member at each college. 

The scholars represent a variety of Colorado communities, both rural and metropolitan, and one – Dani Leon – came to CCD from Pachuca, Mexico.

Sarah Warren, who grew up in Colorado Springs and is now studying at CNCC, has been "fascinated by teeth" for as long as she can remember.

"I would say I was born to be in the field of dentistry,” she said. “I am ecstatic about the support from Delta Dental, which moves me one step closer to being a hygienist. When I finish my degree, my plan is to move back to Colorado Springs, where there is a lot of need for dental hygienists."

Delta Dental of Colorado's mission is to improve the oral health of the communities it serves, a mission aligned with that of many of the scholarship recipients.

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"Having a career in the dental field has always been my passion," said James Qado, who is studying for an A.A.S. at Pueblo Community College. Qado is a 30-year-old Iraqi immigrant who moved to the United States in 2012 after working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army.

"I grew up in a community where oral hygiene was the last thing anyone would think of, and I volunteered with the only dentist in the area who could teach families the importance of oral health," Qado said. "That was really inspiring to me. The Delta Dental scholarship is making it possible for me to have my dream job, and soon, I will be able to provide the same care for those in need." 

The organization has given nearly $70 million back to the community during the past 15 years through its foundation and community engagement program. The combined efforts spotlight oral health as an important element to improve the health of all Coloradans. 

Beyond providing financial resources to ensure CCCS dental hygiene programs have state-of-the-art equipment and dynamic faculty, a primary goal of the $1.5 million gift is to support students who are committed to careers in public health for underserved communities.

"It is inspiring to hear how our endowment has motivated scholars," said Allison Cusick, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. "These future care providers have the ability to create change and connect with underserved communities, such as geriatric patients and veterans in rural settings."

The endowment also provides funding to support one faculty member from each college's dental hygiene program. The first Delta Dental Endowed Professor appointments were awarded to Mary-Catherine Dean, R.D.H., M.S., of Community College of Denver; Linda Blasi, R.D.H., M.S., of Pueblo Community College; and Tiffany Douglas, R.D.H., of Colorado Northwestern Community College.

"This appointment will allow me to travel across Colorado to rural and urban areas to share information about our program," Dean said. "I will meet with groups of dental hygienists and local health departments to ensure they are aware of our program's focus on developing public health programs with an emphasis on outreach, education, and providing dental hygiene services to those in need. Thank you to Delta Dental of Colorado."

Delta Dental endowed scholars

Colorado Northwestern Community College

  • Deanne Blankmeyer of Ridgeway, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Jen Fury of Dove Creek, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Pam Guerrero of Commerce City, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Elvia Salgado of Rifle, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Miriam Savidrez of Carbondale, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Sarah Warren of Colorado Springs, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Keiko Woodyard of Glenwood Springs, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene