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$1.5 million gift supports faculty excellence and scholarships for students committed to public health


The Colorado Community College System is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Delta Dental Endowed Scholarships which provide financial assistance for dental hygiene students at CCCS colleges. The new scholarship program is the result of a $1.5 million gift to the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges by Delta Dental of Colorado in 2017.

These future care providers have the ability to create change and connect with underserved communities.
Allison Cusick, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation

Three CCCS colleges have programs in dental hygiene – Community College of Denver (CCD), Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC), and Pueblo Community College (PCC). In addition to the associate’s degree, CCD and PCC also offer a bachelor of applied sciences degree in dental hygiene. This endowment recognizes the unique positioning that has brought CCCS programs to the forefront of the oral health profession.

20 students from varying backgrounds were awarded the scholarship

Across all three programs, 20 students were selected as Delta Dental Endowed Scholars, including 13 pursuing an associate of applied science degree and 7 pursuing a bachelor of applied science degree. The Scholars represent a variety of Colorado communities, both rural and metropolitan, and one – Dani Leon – came to CCD from Pachuca, Mexico.

James Qato

James Qato

“Having a career in the dental field has always been my passion,” said James Qado, who is studying for an A.A.S. at Pueblo Community College. Qado is a 30-year-old Iraqi immigrant who moved to the United States in 2012 after working as an interpreter for the US Army.

“I grew up in a community where oral hygiene was the last thing anyone would think of, and I volunteered with the only dentist in the area who could teach families the importance of oral health,” Qado said. “That was really inspiring to me. The Delta Dental scholarship is making it possible for me to have my dream job and soon I will be able to provide the same care for those in need.”

Sarah Warren, who grew up in Colorado Springs and is now studying at CNCC, has been “fascinated by teeth” for as long as she can remember. “I would say I was born to be the field of dentistry,” Warren claimed. “I am ecstatic about the support from Delta Dental, which moves me one step closer to being a hygienist. When I finish my degree, my plan is to move back to Colorado Springs, where there is a lot of need for dental hygienists.”

Beyond providing financial resources to ensure that CCCS dental hygiene programs have state-of-the-art equipment and dynamic faculty, a primary goal of the $1.5 million gift is to support students who are committed to careers in public health for underserved communities.

I am ecstatic about the support from Delta Dental, which moves me one step closer to being a hygienist.
Sarah Warren, CNCC Dental Hygiene Student
“It is inspiring to hear how our endowment has motivated scholars,” said Allison Cusick, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “These future care providers have the ability to create change and connect with underserved communities, such as geriatric patients and veterans in rural settings.”

Endowment funds help faculty members raise awareness for the program throughout Colorado 

The endowment also provides funding to support one faculty member from each college’s dental hygiene program. The first Delta Dental Endowed Professor appointments were awarded to Mary-Catherine Dean, R.D.H., M.S., of Community College of Denver; Linda Blasi, R.D.H., M.S., of Pueblo Community College; and Tiffany Douglas, R.D.H., of Colorado Northwestern Community College.

“This appointment will allow me to travel across Colorado to rural and urban areas to share information about our program,” said Mary-Catherine Dean. “I will meet with groups of dental hygienists and local health departments to ensure they are aware of our program’s focus on developing public health programs with an emphasis on outreach, education, and providing dental hygiene services to those in need. Thank you to Delta Dental of Colorado.” 

2018-2019 Delta Dental Endowed Scholars

Pueblo Community College

  • Brooke Brown of Commerce City, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Suzzette Franklin of Denver, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Jacqueline Fresquez of Pueblo, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Hilary Link of Grand Junction, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Charlene Lucero of Colorado Springs, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Megan Passig of Pueblo, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Jamal (James) Qado of Pueblo West, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Valencia Salas of Pueblo, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene

Community College of Denver

  • Sandra (Dani) Leon of Pachuca, Mexico, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Timothy Lucero of Denver, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Gingerlynn Pughes of Denver, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Sarah Tanner of Lakewood, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Ashley Wallweber of Castle Rock, B.A.S. in Dental Hygiene

Colorado Northwestern Community College

  • Deanne Blankmeyer of Ridgeway, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Jen Fury of Dove Creek, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Pam Guerrero of Commerce City, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Elvia Salgado of Rifle, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Miriam Savidrez of Carbondale, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Sarah Warren of Colorado Springs, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
  • Keiko Woodyard of Glenwood Springs, A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene