WCU Dental Hygiene Student Fuels Her Passion for Healing With Community Outreach

After experiencing hardship and isolation during a hospital stay as a child, Hannie T. knew she wanted to work in healthcare.

“I was admitted for treatment and felt isolated because my family wasn’t able to visit me most of the time due to the long commute and limited financial resources,” she said. “Having to experience that as a child was very detrimental. I was by myself most of the time, and I didn’t understand why I was there or how long I had to be confined in a room with IV lines hooking up to my arms. The only thing that I wanted was to be home.”

The hospital staff was the one part that made her stay bearable, Hannie said.

“I’m very grateful for all the hospital staff who cared for me back then because they were caring and attentive to my needs,” she said. “I realized that having close ones during tough times, especially during hospital stays, was very crucial as it felt like the only support system that I had.”

Now a West Coast University-Orange County dental hygiene student, Hannie volunteers and works in the community to be present for patients and provide them with the support they need.

“As I grew older, I understood that being present for others was important,” she said. “Not only am I there to provide support, but also to be an active listener for others as someone they can rely on while their family members are not around.”

Besides being a student delegate for both the California Dental Hygienists’ Association and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, Hannie also volunteered for four years at LAC+USC Medical Center. However, her community outreach does not stop there.

“To me, giving back extends beyond the means of providing financial resources. It involves empathy, compassion, and patience towards those around me,” she added. “The current project I’ve been working on is knitting infant beanies. Knitting has always been a hobby of mine, and I want to take it one step further and make beanies for the little ones at the Children’s Hospital. I hope this project will bring many more smiles to those around me.”

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.