TSTC Dental Hygiene alumna Joanna Cerda (top) gives a dental cleaning to her daughter Sadie at Su Clinica.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A compliment can have an uplifting effect on a person’s life.

For Texas State Technical College graduate Joanna Cerda, compliments that she received about her smile would lead her to a rewarding 14-year career as a dental hygienist.

Cerda earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene from TSTC’s Harlingen campus in 2010.

“I was hired as a registered dental hygienist with Su Clinica in 2010,” she said. “I promote oral health by providing teeth cleanings to patients such as placing sealants, using fluoride, and giving a patient’s diagnosis to the dentist.”

Cerda finds working at Su Clinica somewhat nostalgic.

“I’ve been a patient at the clinic since I was a child, and now I work here,” she said. “I give the same level of treatment to my clientele that I was given during my youth. It’s interesting how it all came full circle.”

Anthony Maggio is a dentist at Su Clinica.

“Joanna has implemented the knowledge that she learned from various didactic courses in TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program while giving direct patient care in our clinic,” he said. “That gave her a valuable foundation to treat patients. She provides quality periodontal treatments and receives high patient satisfaction levels.”

Cerda credits her success to her training at TSTC.

“I felt the instructors did an incredible job of caring for us because they wanted us to succeed,” she said.

Raquel Rico is TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program director.

“One of Joanna’s best qualities was her positive attitude,” she said. “Her commitment to the program shaped her development as she strived to provide optimal patient care.”

According to onetonline.org, dental hygienists in Texas earn an average annual salary of $79,660. The need for hygienists in the state was expected to grow 32% from 2020 to 2030, according to the website.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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