Scholarship brings dreams into focus

2021 DANB ADAA Scholarship winners

2021 ADAA/DANB Scholarship winners share inspirational plans for reaching their dental assisting career goals. 

The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) and DANB have named Angelica Morales-Maez, CDA; Stacey Simon, CDA, COA, RDA, EFDA, FADAA, B.A.; and Jami Van Enkevort, CDA, FADAA, as winners of the 2021 ADAA/DANB Scholarship. They were selected from dental assistants who applied from across the country, and will use the scholarship funds to turn their dental assisting dreams into reality. 

Reaching for a second DANB certification 

Scholarship winner Angelica Morales-Maez has had DANB’s Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA) certification on her mind since earning Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification in 2016. 

“I’ve always wanted to take the CRFDA exams,” says Morales-Maez, of Fairbanks, Alaska. “I got CDA certified before I left active duty in the U.S. Army, and then I told myself I was going to get CRFDA certified pretty quickly after that.” 

But then life became busy. 

Around that time, Morales-Maez transitioned from being an active-duty dental technician in the U.S. Army to serving in the U.S. National Guard and re-entering the civilian workforce. Now, she’s working as an oral surgery assistant at Bassett Army Community Hospital at Fort Wainwright. In this role, Morales-Maez is an experienced assistant whom her colleagues look to for guidance — and she doesn’t take this responsibility lightly. In fact, it’s why she’s still interested in earning and maintaining multiple certifications. 

When Morales-Maez first learned of the scholarship being offered through DANB and the ADAA, she knew this was the perfect opportunity to seek support for her certification goal. 

“When I learned I was a winner, I thought: ‘This is meant to be.’ Being selected gave me more encouragement to push forward and put these funds toward finally earning CRFDA certification,” she says. 

For Morales-Maez, this is what being an outstanding dental assistant and DANB certificant is all about: achieving more for oneself, one’s patients and teams, and the overall profession. “If anybody is on the fence about getting certified, or deciding whether they should stop at one certification, I feel that they should continue,” she says. “You should always stay a little hungry. And don’t be afraid to feed others — because your knowledge trickles down.”

Expanding dental knowledge 

Scholarship winner Jami Van Enkevort also recognizes the importance of gaining and sharing education as a dental assistant. When the dental assistant instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay submitted her scholarship application, she envisioned being able to grow both her knowledge and her students’ knowledge in radiology if selected. 

“This scholarship will not only benefit me, but also the future dental assistant students who attend NWTC,” Van Enkevort wrote to the scholarship committee. As a winner, she plans to enroll in the Educational and Clinical Application for Proprietary Radiology Educators course offered in spring 2022 through the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry. 

“My mentors have taken this course years ago and spoken very highly of it,” Van Enkevort says. “Whenever it’s mentioned at training events, I think, ‘This is a sign. I need to do this.’ The time has come!” 

Helping patients access care 

Scholarship winner Stacey Simon of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also believes in pursuing “signs” lighting the way along her career path. 

She remembers feeling thrilled to receive information in the mail about the online Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) certificate program at Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 

Two years later, this opportunity remained on her mind while writing to the scholarship committee. “When I saw that brochure, I immediately thought, ‘This is it! THIS is how I can help people!’” 

Simon has long been passionate about helping those dental patients with limited access to dental care or without dental insurance. She currently works as a dental coordinator with His Hands Free Clinic —a nonprofit ministry providing free healthcare to Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities — after starting at the clinic as a volunteer. 

“I’m passionate about doing everything I can to help people,” says Simon, “and I’m very excited to start this journey in my career, thanks to the ADAA and DANB. I can’t wait to give back to the patients by completing the CDHC certificate program.” 

About the scholarship 

The ADAA/DANB Scholarship, open to all ADAA members in good standing, is awarded annually to dental assistants who demonstrate a strong commitment to career growth and lifelong learning. Winners receive between $250 and $1,000. To learn more, visit or