The DALE Foundation names 2020 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship winners

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The DALE Foundation, the official affiliate of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), has selected the winners of the 2020 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship.

Awarded annually, this scholarship is open to all dental assistants, DANB certificants and other oral healthcare professionals, to support the professional development of dental auxiliaries.

This year, after receiving more than 80 applications, the Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship Committee has selected three winners. The winners will receive between $500 and $1,000 plus three continuing education products of their choice from the DALE Foundation.

Scholarship funds can be used for professional development activities, such as continuing education courses, dental conferences, DANB certification renewal and college courses.

Scholarship winners

Jorge Colon Jr., of Harrington, Delaware, has been working as a dental assistant for about seven years, currently with a public health clinic in Georgetown, Delaware. Colon also works in dental assisting education at Delaware Technical Community College. He plans to use his scholarship funds to take DANB’s Infection Control and General Chairside Assisting exams to earn Certified Dental Assistant™ (CDA®) certification.

“In my roles, I help bring back patients’ smiles, as well as bring new knowledge to those who wish to elevate their education in the dental field,” Colon shares. “I am seeking to become DANB certified, because it is my hope to elevate our educational program and continue to pass on my knowledge and experience.”

Dalena Ha, of Hillsboro, Oregon, works at Kaiser Permanente as a dental assistant and is currently attending Johns Hopkins University to pursue a biotechnology master’s degree with a concentration in regenerative and stem cell technologies. In the past, Ha worked as a dental assistant with dental services at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in conjunction with Oregon Health and Science University. She plans to use her scholarship funds toward dental school application and ultimately aims to advocate for the special needs and medically complex patient population.

“I strive to improve my knowledge in patient care,” Ha says. “Patients look to their providers for support to get through obstacles in their lives. Through my personal work experiences, I have learned that honing my patient-care skills — such as being compassionate and open-minded — will allow me to provide extended support for my patients, as well as ensure their safety.”

Valinda Johnston, CDA, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, has been working as a dental assistant for more than 30 years. She also has experience as a treatment coordinator, and with coordinating and teaching continuing dental education offered by her dentist employer, as well as providing in-office consulting nationwide. Johnston now is pursuing a Health Science and Services degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho, with plans to use her scholarship funds toward this tuition cost.

“As a French author said, ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’ I have always wished to go back to school and earn my bachelor’s degree,” Johnston says. “Life has brought many challenges and hardships that put my goal of going back to school on hold. It is the right time now. I have the plan and an attainable goal. In the future, I hope to continue working in the dental field, teaching and consulting, and in dental research.”

Scholarship finalists

This year, the scholarship committee also selected two finalists, who will receive one DALE Foundation product of their choice.

  • Vanessa Garcia, CDA
  • Pamela Smith, CDA


Learn more about the scholarship

The DALE Foundation launched the Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship in 2014 to honor the late Liz Koch, who served as Chief Operating Officer of DANB and the DALE Foundation before her untimely passing in 2011. For more information, visit the DALE Foundation Scholarships page.

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