Pulaski Technical College will be able to provide scholarships to students in its Dental Assisting Technical Certificate program with a $15,000 gift from Delta Dental of Arkansas.
"With this scholarship, Delta Dental is now funding every step in the educational process related to dentistry," said Chris Pyle, director of communications and community relations for Delta Dental. "We have endowed scholarships for students attending dental school out of state, at UAMS for dental hygienists and now scholarships at Pulaski Tech for dental assistants. These scholarships will help advance one of our core goals, which is to improve the oral health of Arkansans."
The endowment will provide the first scholarships exclusively for students in the dental assisting program. Students will apply for the first scholarship in March 2009 to be awarded for the fall 2009 semester.
"An endowment will benefit our current and future students by helping to remove financial barriers to their education," said Joyce Taylor, executive director of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation.
The Dental Assisting Technical Certificate, offered at Pulaski Tech since 1965, is the first dental assisting program in the state and one of only two dental assisting programs in Arkansas accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation within the American Dental Association.
The nine-month program prepares students to care for dental patients and to perform a variety of office and laboratory duties. Twenty-six students are accepted into the program yearly. After successfully completing the program, students are eligible to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board for certification and apply for registration with the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners.
"We are so appreciative to Delta Dental for their investment in our program and our students," said DeAnna Davis, program coordinator for Pulaski Technical College's dental assisting program. "This gift will help our students achieve their educational and career goals, and in turn, help meet the need for qualified dental assistants throughout the state."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a dental assistant shortage exists nationwide and in central Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Development has included dental assisting in its Loan Forgiveness Program.
Delta Dental is the largest dental benefits provider in the state of Arkansas and is a member of Delta Dental Plans Association, a national network of independent not-for-profit dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to 46 million Americans in more than 80,000 employee groups throughout the country.
The company serves more than 1,000 participating Arkansas dentists, 2,200 employer groups and more than 1.4 million people.
Through its Smile! Arkansas initiative the company has contributed more than $1.5 million for multiple projects, including distributing oral health education kits to every elementary school in the state, providing scholarships for dental students and helping support charitable dental clinics with essential supplies and costly equipment.
Pulaski Technical College is a comprehensive, two-year college that serves the educational needs of central Arkansas through more than 50 occupational/technical degree and certificate programs, a university-transfer curriculum and specialized programs for business and industry.
The college's mission is to provide access to high quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state.