When she first applied to NYU's dental hygiene program, Joanna Kozloska, '12, AAS in Dental Hygiene, worried that she might not get in. "But then I got the call from Professor Lisa Stefanou who said, 'It would be an honor to have you,'" explained the 24-year-old from Bayside, Queens. "So I enrolled right away, and have been completely in love ever since. I love interacting with the dental students. I love caring for and educating patients. I love both the dental faculty and the hygiene faculty, who are all so helpful and wonderful."
Joanna's bubbly enthusiasm is surpassed only by her dedication to the field and her drive to succeed.
"Sometimes you can just see leadership qualities," said Winnie Furnari, clinical assistant professor of dental hygiene, who first met Joanna during her pre-clinical studies. "She's articulate in her speech and in her studies. She interacts well with colleagues and classmates. And she demonstrates a scientific mind."
Professor Furnari encouraged Joanna to enter an essay competition offered by the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), the nation's largest professional organization for dental hygienists, whose mission is to advance the art and science of dental hygiene, and to promote the highest standards of education and practice in the profession. The topic of the essay was, "How does ADHA membership benefit students?"
Joanna entered the competition and won. She served as Student Delegate, along with a Student Alternate Delegate, representing the ADHA's District II region (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania) at the organization's 88th Annual Session, which was held in June in Nashville, Tennessee. Along with the other student members selected as delegates, Joanna represented the ADHA student membership and attended the House of Delegates sessions along with other scheduled events.
"I would never have pursued this if it hadn't been for Professor Furnari," said Joanna. "We voted on legislation and got an insider's view of the future of dental hygiene. It was a very exciting learning experience."
"This is really a big commitment," said Professor Furnari. "Joanna had a lot of information to absorb. I'm looking forward to her sharing everything she has learned so that other students can benefit from her experience. It really makes an impact when they hear about such an event directly from one of their peers."
Before Joanna knew she wanted to be a dental hygienist, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She began her college career studying education at Queens College. "But I couldn't figure out what I wanted to teach." It was after she began working as an assistant in a local dental office that her career aspirations began to come together. "From assisting, I knew that education was a key part of being a hygienist. So I knew I wanted to become a dental hygienist."
Following graduation, Joanna hopes to get a job immediately working in a general dental practice and then possibly transition to a practice specializing in periodontics or pediatric dentistry. "I really enjoy teaching patients how to keep their oral cavity healthy. Each person is an individual and should have their own homecare regime-they may have to incorporate using a water pick if they have pocket depth, or they may have to use a fluoride rinse, for example." She also hopes to be actively involved in the ADHA, and would like to volunteer as well.
Joanna recalled one of her early patients at NYUCD, a man in his 40s, taking the suction tube out of his mouth. He looked her in the eye and pointing a finger at her, said, "I've had a lot of people clean my teeth. You, you're going to be a good one."
"I see her as having a great future," said Professor Furnari, echoing that patient's prediction.
An Excerpt from Joanna Kozloska's Prize-Winning Submission to the 2011 ADHA Essay Competition
"Student membership in the ADHA is one of the primary connections between a student and the dental hygiene profession. Membership is a means of communicating ideas, building relationships, and developing a professional identity for our future. There are numerous tangible and intangible benefits that our professional association offers to its members. Students can appreciate that ADHA enhances our education with offerings such as board review, education courses, publication opportunities, and evidence-based research. Empowering future hygienists, supporting our community, and developing new and qualified educators shapes our future."