National hygiene association president encourages graduates to always reach for the summit

Dawn Dean completed a master of science degree at WVU in 1992

Dawn Ann Dean, RDH, MSDH and American Dental Hygienists Association president, delivered an encouraging message to 2023 dental and dental hygiene graduates from West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

Dean earned a master of science degree from the department of dental hygiene in 1992. Over three decades, she’s been recognized as an honorable alum of West Liberty University’s dental hygiene program, mentored students as a professor, lead as president and president-elect of the American Dental Hygienists Association and the West Virginia Dental Hygienists Association.

Her address was entitled “Why We Climb”. The full text is below.

Greg Child, Australian-born author and mountaineer, tells us, “Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” As President of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, I have reached the summit of the profession of dental hygiene, because I found my purpose, foundation, and path forward here at WVU School of Dentistry as one of the first two graduates of the inaugural, Master of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene Graduate Program, in 1992, and like the soon-to-be-graduates of the Dental and Dental Hygiene Classes of 2023, the Mountaineering Spirit compels me onward and upward as a Lifelong Learner, Pioneer, and Mountaineer.

            “The mountains are calling and I must go,” speaks to the “Why” in #WhyWeClimb. As a WVU School of Dentistry Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene, it has been my greatest honor to return to my Alma Mater, the world’s #1 dental school, to serve as a faculty member with the industry’s best and to teach and mentor #OurStudentsOurFuture. For these incredibly brilliant soon-to-be-graduates, the “Why” might have seemed less obvious at times over the past years, as Dental and Dental Hygiene School are two of the most rigorous academically challenging degree programs with innumerable national and clinical board examinations and state law examinations. These students are survivalists and have learned the important skills of navigation, adaptability, and perseverance. In true Blue & Gold Mountaineer Spirit, they now know the meaning of the words “true grit.”

            How many of you own a backpack? Great! Mountaineers-- carry backpacks. Within the backpack, the Mountaineer packs the essentials for a successful climb. I recommend that you keep the 3-D’s in your backpack, as you journey onward from the WVU School of Dentistry: Dedication, Discipline, and Desire. You must first be dedicated to your Chosen Profession and uphold the oath you have taken. You must be determined and disciplined to reach the next summit, because this moment in time is only one summit you have reached. There are many summits ahead of you in your lifetime. And finally, the most important “D” of all---DESIRE! Never lose your zeal for life, and now that you have found #YourWhy--#YourPurpose here at WVU School of Dentistry, and your backpack is packed with the three D’s, you have the essentials for a successful journey forward.

            Never forget that The Summits in Life are to be shared. The breathtaking views from the hardest climbs and highest mountains are not for us to experience alone. As a Mountaineer, you are to keep clear the pathways of opportunities for others and be a guiding light. By your example, you will teach the world how to climb successfully and to develop a passion for the mountaineering life. As future dentists and dental hygienists, you will be the pioneers of your professions, and I hope as you will live life with a philanthropic heart and give back to your alma mater and your professional associations by joining the WVU School of Dentistry Alumni Association, the ADHA, and the ADA. I also hope that you will consider a future career in education. The WVU School of Dentistry would be honored to have you serve on the distinguished staff or as an administrator. There is no greater reward, as Our Students are Our Future. My favorite life quote and theme as ADHA President by Robert Ingersoll, “We rise by lifting others,” epitomizes what it means to live a life of service and selflessness. It’s your time to Rise & Shine.

            The WVU School of Dentistry aims to be the #1 Dental School in the Nation, and I know they are, because never in the history of the WVU School of Dentistry or any other university in the nation can it be stated that there has been both the ADHA and ADA Presidents serving their terms of office simultaneously and as graduates and alumni. Two mountaineers who have reached the summits of both their professions and professional associations. This is a historical fact to be celebrated here at WVU School of Dentistry!  I believe that in this room there is a future ADHA and ADA President in our midst, and future industry giants and legacy leaders ready to take that next big step. This—my fellow Mountaineers is #WhyWEClimb. Congratulations, WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2023! Keep climbing!

Dawn Dean will complete her term as ADHA president this summer. Her influence and mentorship were celebrated in a video thanking her for her service