Dental hygiene graduate endows scholarship

November 4th, 2015

Dental Hygiene Class of 1966Not long after earning her degree, Patsy Whalley, a 1966 Caruth School of Dental Hygiene graduate, decided it might be nice to live and work in California. It meant becoming licensed in that state, but that didn’t daunt her. She already had passed the board exam in Texas and soon would tackle exams in British Columbia and Washington.

Two no-show patients on exam day nearly derailed her plans. Thankfully, a dental student who had just seated a patient agreed to “loan” her the individual for a thorough cleaning before the scheduled procedure. Whalley, who passed the licensure exam but never found work in California, practiced in Vancouver and ultimately settled in Washington state in 1975, practicing there full time until 2000.

“I decided I wanted to be licensed in all 50 states, but then you had to do each one individually,” says the University Place, Washington, resident, who spends winter months in Hawaii. “Of course, this is back when license fees were $25. I wanted to be able to practice wherever I went.”

Patricia Kantz Yearbook Photo

Top: Patsy Whalley’s graduating class. Above: Whalley, then Patsy Kantz.

Washington’s exam entailed some extracurricular preparation, Whalley explains, because it required dental hygienists to administer an injection and fill a tooth, two things not required of Texas hygienists.

“The amazing thing to me is, we had such good anatomy classes that when I took the board in Washington, my brother — a dentist and fellow 1966 graduate — sent me a pamphlet on how to give an injection. I practiced on myself and successfully passed the exam,” she says.

Still licensed, Whalley worked on a temporary basis as recently as last year. Her most recent professional contribution is financial in nature: donating $25,000 to Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry through the Texas A&M Foundation to fund the Patricia Kantz Whalley, RDH, Class of 1966 Endowed Scholarship.

“I just felt that the college had done a lot for me, and I wanted to give back,” she says of the decision to provide need-based scholarships to full-time dental hygiene students at TAMBCD. She hopes the scholarship, established earlier this year, will find its way to individuals such as dental assistants who want to continue their education by pursuing dental hygiene.

With a graduation milestone on the horizon, Whalley looks forward to reconnecting with her classmates next fall for a 50th reunion in Dallas.

“We had a great time in school, and a few of us get together every 10 years,” Whalley says. “I remember when we were nearing the end of our time at Caruth, our director Dr. Ruth Swords walked into the room and said, ‘Look around. You’ll never see all these people together again,’ knowing we would go our separate ways. I hope we have a good turnout for our reunion.”

— Jennifer Fuentes