Carrie Portwood, Lucretia Human

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A group of 18 new Dental Hygiene program graduates from Texas State Technical College recently celebrated their commitment to providing the best dental care possible in a pinning ceremony held at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

Each graduate was presented with a pin that signifies their completion of the program and readiness for the dental hygiene profession. They also received a ceremonial lab coat.

Vivienne Cermeno, a TSTC Dental Hygiene instructor, told the graduates that the pin features a brand-new design.

“This is the first time in 25 years that we are giving out our own customized pin,” she said. “It has emblems that symbolize everything in the Rio Grande Valley — everything I hope you can take with you.”

Lucretia Human, a TSTC Dental Hygiene instructor, said it made her proud to see how each student has grown and matured.

“They are ready to go out into the professional world as dental hygienists,” she said.

TSTC associate provost Jean Lashbrook said for her the greatest thing to see was the graduates’ passion for their career choice.

“It is their rite of passage,” she said of the pinning ceremony. “They are about to go into a career they always wanted to do. They have been trained by the best instructors. Now they are ready to put those tools in their hands and work with patients.”

One of the graduating students who received his pin was Jesus Gonzalez, of Edinburg. He said sharing the moment with the instructors was rewarding.

“These are the individuals I spent the last two years with,” he said. “It is memorable.”

Years ago, Gonzalez had pursued TSTC’s Dental Assistant program, but he desired to do more for the community. That decision led him to enroll in the Dental Hygiene program.

“You get the opportunity to treat a patient for periodontal disease and gingivitis,” he said. “In the end, you are making a difference in their life.”

Irisbel Garcia, of McAllen, said the hygienist profession is something she always wanted to do.

“It is special because this is a goal being accomplished,” she said. “I have always loved the dental field because I was a dental assistant for eight years. I knew I wanted to move up the career ladder. Then I decided to enroll in TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program. Now I will see where this new direction takes me.”

At the event’s conclusion, the graduates recited the Dental Hygiene Oath.

According to, dental hygienists in Texas can earn an average annual salary of $77,600. The need for hygienists in the state is expected to grow 35% by 2028.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene at the Harlingen campus.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters is underway. For more information, visit

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