Student leads unique path to dental education

Hannah Bergeron plans to apply her experience teaching special needs children to a new role: meeting the health care needs of vulnerable populations.
Student leads unique path to dental education

Hannah Bergeron

After nearly three years in the classroom as a special education teacher, Hannah Bergeron says she is ready to make a career change, but still hopes to be a part of serving the most vulnerable population.

“I taught in a cross-categorical classroom in Michigan. The children had a range of special needs including autism, emotional impairment, cognitive impairment and Down syndrome,” Bergeron said. “Many also were low-income without basic resources like a toothbrush.”

At the beginning of her undergraduate education, Bergeron said she was focused on pre-dental or pre-med but this changed as she grew in a desire to work with special needs children. It was then she changed her focus to teaching. While in the classroom she found herself teaching on proper brushing and providing children with toothbrushes.

Her original goal to enter health care blossomed to match her passion for those with special needs. After completing the prerequisites, Bergeron made the move to pursue dental education.

“I want to continue working with the vulnerable population after I graduate, helping meet their health care needs. It is exciting to begin my education at UofL and have the opportunity to see a diverse mix of patients,” she said.

Bergeron is one of 120 dental and 30 dental hygiene students to take part in the School of Dentistry White Coat Ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 24 at The Louisville Palace.

Brandi Hall of Rowan County, Ky., said this will be a special experience for both herself and her Mom who works as a dental hygienist in Morehead, Ky.

“I’ve been working for years to get here,” Hall said. “My Mom and I have texted all week about the White Coat ceremony this weekend. I love the Louisville community and am super happy about my decision to come here.”

David C. Johnsen, DDS, MS, dean of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, will give the keynote at the ceremony with UofL School of Dentistry Dean T. Gerard Bradley, BDS, MS, DrMedDent, presiding. Johnsen, a pediatric dentist, will speak on critical thinking in learning and professional environments.