Phoenix College Students Awarded National Closing America’s Smile Gap Scholarship

Thursday, March 9, 2023
PC Dental Hygiene scholarship recipients with their faculty member standing outside dental building

Scholarship recipients (from left to right: Jose C., Amanda P., Kerry Darrow (Faculty), Graciela S., Celia P., and Miguel J.

Crest and Oral B logo with Hispanic dental assistant meeting with patient image
Hispanic Star logo with image of Hispanic woman

Kids in underserved communities suffer the most from tooth decay, which contributes to lost sleep, missed school days, and poor overall health. Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Oral Care brands Crest and Oral B, together with the We Are All Human and Hispanic Star Foundations, are on a mission to “Close America’s Smile Gap,” through a national program to educate kids and parents about the importance of oral health, improve access to dental care in minority communities, and provide scholarships to increase diversity among dental professionals.

Phoenix College (PC) is one of only three colleges in the United States with recipients of the very first Closing America’s Smile Gap Scholarship (along with El Paso Community College and Los Angeles College). Six PC students were awarded $3,750 each ($22,500 total), to support completion of their dental hygiene degree. PC’s first Closing America’s Smile Gap Scholarship recipients are Jose Canchola, Celia Contreras, Miguel Juviel, Katharine Murcia, Amanda Perez, and Graciela Sanchez.

On February 9, an online ceremony was hosted for students to meet leaders from the partner organizations.  Representatives from P&G, the We Are All Human and Hispanic Star Foundations, and dental program faculty from the three colleges – congratulated students on being selected for the scholarship. 

Amber Lovatos, RDH, BSDH, MAADH, “The Latina RDH” – as she is known in the public health community, shared details about her childhood struggles with oral health, and about her journey becoming a dental hygienist.

The $3,750 scholarship supports second-year dental hygiene students, and can be used for tuition, hygiene tools, textbooks, and to pay for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), which students take upon completion of their associate’s degree, as the final step in becoming licensed dental hygienists.

“PC Dental Hygiene students are so fortunate to receive this support, and we are proud to partner with Procter & Gamble’s dental brands Crest and Oral B to increase diversity in the dental community, and to help Close America’s Amile Gap,” said Adrianna Coronell, PC’s Dean of Healthcare, Industry, Public Service and Technology.

“Because of this scholarship, I was able to pay for my Board Exams and child care. I am incredibly thankful,” said scholarship recipient Amanda Perez.

Phoenix College’s Dental Hygiene Program is well-recognized in Maricopa County, across Arizona, and beyond – as a premier provider of oral health education since 1968. The Dental Hygiene Program is a rigorous, science-based curriculum, where students provide services in a hands-on clinical setting, instructed and supervised by licensed dentists and dental hygiene professionals.

The mission of the Department of Dental Programs is to guide dental students towards excellence in their professional dental career and to inspire in them a commitment to the community and continuous professional improvement. PC also offers a Dental Assisting Program and other health sciences programs, which prepare students to transfer to a healthcare related four-year program.

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About Closing America’s Smile Gap  Program

  • Donated $2.5 million+ dental products in 2020
  • Established partnerships with 400,000 dental professionals in all 50 states
  • Established dental school scholarships for underserved students

Providing Access to Dental Care

We’re traveling to America’s hardest hit communities and hosting 20 dental care access events and providing over 2 million oral care product donations.

Educating Communities

We’re providing our dental care curriculum for schools so that teachers can spread the word about healthy oral care habits to kids in need.

Establishing Dental Care Scholarships

So far, we have given over $1 million in scholarships for minority dental students with the goal of bringing more diversity into the next generation of dental professionals.

About Procter & Gamble

At P&G, fostering equality and inclusion, supporting our communities and protecting the planet is embedded in how we do business. We believe we have a responsibility to make the world better —through the products we create and the positive impact our brands and Company can have. Under our Lead with Love campaign, P&G and its brands have committed to 2,021 acts of good this year. In the U.S. and Canada, consumers can do even more through P&G Good Everyday, a consumer rewards program that helps turn everyday actions into acts of good.

About the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE®)

The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) is offered under the auspices of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, an independent agency of the American Dental Association. The NBDHE assists state boards in evaluating qualifications of dental hygienists for licensure. NBDHE certification is accepted in all states as fulfilling all or part of the written examination requirements for licensure. The NBDHE assesses the ability to understand important information from basic biomedical and dental hygiene sciences and also the ability to apply such information in a problem-solving context.

About Phoenix College

Phoenix College (PC) welcomed its first students, as one of the first higher education institutions in Maricopa County on September 13, 1920. PC's founders envisioned the College as a place of inclusion, as a non-segregated institution. Today, the College continues to be a place of diversity, equity and access. Our focus on transformation includes seeking out partnerships that work with opportunity youth, refugee and immigrant populations, Hispanic, Asian, Native American populations and adult learners. PC is dedicated to providing access to valuable and affordable education and community services.  With more than 150 degree and certificate programs, Phoenix College serves approximately 17,000 students each year.

Phoenix College Media Contact: Christina Flora, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing. 602.920-8458.

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. The Maricopa County Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system,