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For Immediate Release
July 17, 2013

Moreno Valley College Student Serves as a
Delegate at National Convention

Student Delegate at National Convention

Moreno Valley College dental hygiene student Katie Silke was one of 24 students selected to serve as a student delegate at the 90th Annual American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) National Convention in Boston last month.

According to Program Director Donna Lesser, the competition to become a student delegate is very competitive. Only freshmen can compete to serve as delegates at the national convention.

"It is a one-year deal, a one-time shot," said Silke, a 2005 graduate of Santiago High School in Corona. "The program is targeted to first-time students. The idea is to expose as many students to the process as possible. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

Silke, 26, said she came away with a new appreciation of volunteerism, the importance of leadership, and the dental hygiene profession.

"It would be tough to select one thing that stood out for me in Boston. I think what it did do is drive home the importance of leadership, the need for involvement," she said. "I came away knowing I need to stay involved. Eventually I'd like to become a delegate at the state level and move up to a (national) trustee. This experience has made me realize I want to be part of progressing the profession for generations after me. It's about being part of change and having a voice. I want to help that cause along."

Coming out high school, Silke dreamed of being a dentist, and earned a degree in biology from San Diego State. But a stint working for Dr. Carol Summerhays' dental office during college rerouted her dream.

Student Delegate at National Convention

"I was in the process of studying for the (dental school) admission test, touring schools and taking simulation courses when I decided to change course and become a dental hygienist," Silke said. "I saw the stress Dr. Summerhays had in owning a practice, and how time consuming it was.

"Although my time in the dentist office changed my mind on becoming a dentist, she did teach me the importance of being involved, making a difference. I saw what she did with her professional organization and she mentored me on getting involved, having a voice. I love the dental hygiene profession and I want to be part of it and experience everything it has to offer. Becoming a delegate was a great opportunity and gave me a chance to develop my leadership skills."

To get to Boston, Silke had to begin in Long Beach, learning about convention rules and Robert's Rules of Order.

"It was through the four days of workshops and the national convention that I realized how far ahead California is with its dental hygiene program," Silke said. "California is one of the most progressive states; it was amazing to see the differences between the state policies and to hear about the different career paths that dental hygiene can provide."

For Lesser it was an easy decision to support Silke in her pursuit for a student delegation spot.

"Katie is a very remarkable individual. She has participated in many community-based dental events and found her passion in educating and helping people improve their oral health," Lesser said. "She has an unusual maturity for a first-year dental hygiene student and truly grasps the disparity that exists in our current healthcare delivery model. Her passion and commitment to improving the system is where her leadership skills came through in her essay.

"There is this unbridled and contagious enthusiasm that she has because she is doing what she really loves. It's hard to have a conversation with her where you don't leave feeling that you have just interacted with someone who is going to make a difference in the world."