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 Cathy Richardson and Della Lane 2 edited Press Release (L-R): Simply Hygiene Clinical Specialist Cathy Richardson presenting Professional Growth Award to Della Lane August 5--  Dental Hygiene student Della Lane was presented the Simply Hygiene Professional Growth Award.  

Being a great dental hygienist is more than just making the grade. With this award, Simply Hygiene takes the focus off the GPA and applauds a student that has overcome great obstacles to successfully complete the Dental Hygiene program.  

Many students have dealt with overcoming personal situations and working just a little bit harder. Della faced college dealing with incarcerated parents who battled addictions. What she lacked in emotional support and financial assistance, she gained in a support network from her STC family and our local community.   

“I interviewed dental hygienists when I got my teeth cleaned and it became my dream,” said Della.    Because of competitive admissions into the Dental Hygiene program and limited space in the class, Della was not accepted the first year she applied, but says, “I’ll always remember the day of my acceptance call a year later.”  

Then, what began as a discussion for a rental property with retired court reporter Kathy Lynn, turned into a friendship and mentorship for Della. Della said, “There are so many around us who truly care and I’m grateful to each of them. Mrs. Kathy is certainly one of those. She let me live with her during week days to go to school here so I didn’t have to commute from Hoboken. I hope to always make her proud.”

Della expressed the love she has for classmates and her instructors for playing such a large role in her success and emotional support. “Dr. Jennifer Gramiak supported me even thought I didn’t make it easy. She believed in me when I didn’t know how much farther I could go. My sister could tell me I could do it, but when my program director told me, I know she understood what I was going through in the classroom. I thank her for her patience. I thank Mrs. Melanie Bryson and Mrs. Lori DeFore for dedicating time for practice. They may have known that someone needed a little extra time, but we weren’t singled out. They did spend extra time with me on clinical skills. And Mrs. Kim Yongue for being so helpful and supportive,” said Della. Regarding her classmates, “I’m surprising shocked by the bond and closeness of our cohort. We supported one another. We’ve now planned a vacation trip together. Some introduced me to their bible study. I plan to stay in touch with each of them.”  

To honor STC’s shared commitment to the profession, the Simply Hygiene Professional Growth Award is a crystal vase with four distinct points representing pillars of success; encourage professional development, promote superior patient care, foster new careers, and help develop confidence and leadership skills.  

“The thing that separates Della from many students is that failure wasn’t an option. We can’t help the cards we’re dealt, but Della chose to finish and always took responsibility,” said Dr. Jennifer Gramiak, Program Director for STC Dental Hygiene. “There’s something to be said for perseverance. Others may quit or blame someone else, but not Della. She always kept a positive spirit and a smile on her face.”  
Della also had the desire to go above and beyond in patient care. With work and school, she found time to volunteer at events including career fairs and working the Georgia Baptist Association Mobile Dental Van.  

Despite it all, Della stayed positive in the face of adversity and went the extra mile to achieve academic success. She passed the Clinical Board July 19, making a grade of 100. She plans now to seek work in Waycross, close to her hometown, and continue to help others. “I’m drawn to help people. It makes me feel good. I’m empowered by my past instead of being embarrassed by what I couldn’t control. I know many students have similar situations and I want to encourage and motivate them,” said Della.  

Della’s message to other is, “Never give up. If I can, you can. Technical school made it cheaper and I got what I needed. I kept PELL and Hope the whole time and didn’t have to take out loans. I want others to see they can do college also. I’ve worked multiple jobs and many weekends to get through school. I’ll no longer have to work weekends!”  

 For more information on careers in Dental Hygiene or to schedule an appointment in our clinic, visit or call (912) 538-3100 or (478) 289-2200.