A century of experience

Four Caruth alumni celebrate more than a decade as coworkers
February 9th, 2023

Back row (from left): Judy Payne and Katie Smith. Front row: Susan Williams and Linda Lockhart

The Caruth School of Dental Hygiene is a pillar of Texas A&M School of Dentistry, producing graduates who are community-minded and leaders in the dentistry field. Four alumni – Linda Lockhart, Katie Smith, Susan Williams and Judy Payne – recently celebrated more than a decade as coworkers, supporting each other in the day-to-day execution of educational, clinical, and therapeutic services for total oral health.

“We represent 185 years of dental hygiene experience, trained by the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene,” said Payne, class of 1973. “The other three hygienists and I have the same foundation, the same ethics, we think alike. It could be our age, we’re from the same generation, but Baylor [as it was called back then] was our foundation for how we perform in the office today.”

For the last 10 years, the four alumni have worked together at Distinctive Dental Concepts in Garland, Texas. Prior to that, they all worked in the same dental complex, but with different dentists, said Lockhart, class of 1970.

“Our camaraderie kept us on the course,” she said. “We encourage each other to keep going. Caruth gave me the skills to clean teeth, but the development of my career has been through the years of learning how to help and encourage my patients.”

Williams, class of 1980, said their connections run deep. She first met Payne when she was hired at Distinctive Dental Concepts, but she’s known Smith since they were classmates. She’s also known Lockhart for more than 30 years. They became friends while sharing a breakroom at a different office in the 1980s.

“We have all gone through many changes in dentistry over the last decades, several of these together,” Williams said. “It has been great having the support of hygienists you know to help each other through these times, and yes, we all got more gray hairs because of them.”

Smith and Lockhart actually grew up just a few blocks from each other. Lockhart even cleaned a teenage Smith’s teeth once and later gave Smith a recommendation to attend dental hygiene school. Smith is class of 1980 and celebrated her retirement at the end of 2022.

“Caruth is where it all started,” Smith said. “All three of those women have been very dedicated to dental hygiene, and we had a good start. Good foundation, good training, all at Baylor … it was Baylor then. Those were great memories and great times.”

— Caleb Vierkant