Celebrating the past, fostering the future of dental hygiene
The dental hygiene class of 2003 has a lot to celebrate in 2023. Not only has it been 20 years since they graduated, but now three members of the class have returned to Texas A&M School of Dentistry to teach in the dental hygiene program.
Professors Maureen Brown, Joanne Martinez and Martha Estrada joined the faculty in 2010, 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Martinez, adjunct assistant clinical professor, said it’s special to work alongside her classmates and play a part in educating the next generation of dental hygienists.
“It says something about our class, that we all wanted to come back to our alma mater,” she said.
The class of 2003 graduated from the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene at what was then Baylor College of Dentistry. In a senior yearbook message to classmates, class president Joy Parker said, “We will always be young, always the student and forever the best of friends,” a shared hope for their future that rings true today.
Brown, clinical assistant professor, said working with Martinez and Estrada is nostalgic.
“It feels like we’re back in school,” she said. “I love being able to run to dinner to celebrate each other’s birthdays, and the bonds we made during school have grown stronger with our return as faculty members. Honestly, we simply just have a lot of fun, and the support we give each other makes it feel as if we’re family.”
Estrada, adjunct assistant clinical professor, echoed the sentiments of Brown and Martinez.
“Teaching at my alma mater and collaborating with my former classmates has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience,” she said. “It combines a sense of nostalgia, pride and mentorship, allowing us to contribute to our school’s legacy.”
The class of 2003 held a reunion in July during which they explored their “old stomping grounds” in the Administration and Education Building, toured the new Clinic and Education Building and enjoyed a dinner at Tate Farms in Rockwall, owned by classmate Melissa Mackaly Tate and family. Lisa Pradarits, administrative associate in dental hygiene, shared her time and talent to decorate for the event.