Lone Star College alumni give back by paying it forward

The Hearts of Alumni, made up of Lone Star College-Kingwood Dental Hygienist graduates, came together to help cover the cost of the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination for current LSC students. Pictured (left to right) are Katy Warner, Giselle Perez Merayo, Racquel Cimino, Amanda Barnhill (not pictured) (recipients of the first award granted) along with Hearts of Alumni members Estrellita “Star” Gallegos, R.D.H.; Mikail Dionglay, R.D.H, B.S; Diane Wilson, R.D.H., B.S., M.Ed.; Yanet Yanez, R.D.H.; Kim Ngo, R.D.H., B.A.; Isabel Perez, R.D.H., B.S., M.S.; Vianey Bernald R.D.H. and Rafael Aguinaga, R.D.H.

What started as an idea to help Lone Star College Dental Hygiene students turned into reality thanks to one LSC graduate with big dreams.

“My goal was to give an award in the amount of the fee for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination,” said Mika Dionglay, R.D.H., LSC-Kingwood 2019 Dental Hygiene graduate. “When I was a student, funding and finance was definitely a struggle. My sincere hope was to lift a little load of worry from the graduating students.”

Dionglay shared her vision with fellow classmates and in just one month the Hearts of Alumni was born.

“Students apply by sending the Hearts of Alumni an informative, reflective essay about themselves and about their journey and experiences in the Dental Hygiene program,” said Diane Wilson, R.D.H., M.Ed., LSC-Kingwood Dental Hygiene professor. “Each student applicant shares the reason they chose the dental hygiene career path, what they have learned so far in the program and where they see themselves in the future.”

At first, the goal was to give an award to only one student. However, as the group received the essays from the student applicants, they decided to raise enough money to award each of the four student applicants.

“We reached out to all of the former graduates of the program and the Hearts of Alumni were able to provide all four of the graduating dental hygiene student applicants the money to cover the cost of the exam,” said Dionglay.

In all, the Hearts of Alumni raised $2,120 for the 2021 academic year. The award covers the payment for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination which costs $490.

Dionglay, who graduated in 2019, recalled going through Hurricane Harvey experience and the impact it had on the LSC-Kingwood campus.

“We did not know if we were still continuing with the program because there was no clinic to go to,” said Dionglay. “The dental hygiene classrooms were destroyed. Instruments and dental machines were lost and damaged, but the faculty and staff of the LSC-Kingwood Dental Hygiene program did not give up. The faculty truly went above and beyond what they can do to continue the program and showed us that anything is truly possible.”

Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 93,000+ students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of nearly $3 billion. Lone Star College consists of seven colleges, eight centers, eight Workforce Centers of Excellence, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.

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