Savannah Tech Provides Dental Hygiene Training for Siblings

STC Dental Hygiene Grad Family

SAVANNAH – Two first-generation college sisters started their career training in dental hygiene at Savannah Technical College. Last night Lawanda Harris, received a dental hygiene associate of science degree from the College. Tomorrow night, Shakela Martin, her sister and a graduate of STC’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs, will receive her doctorate of dental medicine.

Harris graduated at STC’s commencement ceremony at the Savannah Civic Center with more than 230 graduates receiving degrees, diplomas and GEDs. Before she began the Dental Hygiene program, Harris earned STC’s Medical Front Office Assistant certificate in 2007.

“Savannah Technical College prepared me for what I would see in the real world,” said Harris. “Dr. Suzanne Edenfield exposed us to everything. She set high expectations. We learned what we needed to know as dental hygienists.” Edenfield is STC’s department head for Dental Hygiene and has been with the STC’s Dental Hygiene program for the past 30 years providing instruction, clinical supervision and administrative leadership.

Martin’s road to becoming a dentist began with a STC Dental Assisting diploma in 1998. She then completed the Dental Hygiene program in 2003, when it was at Armstrong Atlantic State University, followed by a bachelor of science in dental hygiene education degree in 2004. Martin continued her studies to earn a master’s at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

On May 10, 2014, Martin will earn a doctorate in dental medicine from the University of Louisville’s Dental School. Upon graduation, Martin will work with a private practice family dental group in North Florida.

These sisters are first-generation college students and were raised by their then single mother, Diane Douse. “I’m so proud to have my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter graduating from college,” Douse said. “My oldest set the path so her younger sister could come up behind her to do the same thing.”

Douse graduated high school and instilled the importance of the value of education for her daughters. “I’m behind them 110% in everything they do, as long as they are continuing their education,” Douse said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. This really sets a point in my life where I’m enjoying their moment.”

Douse helped Harris, a single mom, by providing care for her four-year-old daughter, so Harris could attend STC coursework. Harris worked full-time as an office automation clerk for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during her first year in the STC dental hygiene program. Without her mom’s assistance with childcare, Harris says she wouldn’t be where she is today. Both women praise their mom for her continued support as they continued their education.  Douse has another daughter, who graduated from STC’s Cosmetology department in 2006.

The 83-credit-hour Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene program accepts approximately 26 students annually. Students provide clinical patient care as a component of their curriculum requirements. Edenfield is proud of the program’s record of success, noting that most students are offered employment positions pending successful completion of two credentialing examinations and licensure. The program has had 100% licensure pass rate for many years.

The program utilizes a competitive admissions process. Students wishing to enter the Dental Hygiene program must complete an application packet by spring for admission to the fall class. For more information about program admission, please contact STC’s Health Sciences Academic Advisor Heather Valentine ( or 912.443.5721) or Dr. Suzanne Edenfield (

The College has awarded 363 degrees and diplomas for students that completed coursework from summer 2013 through spring 2014. Also, 800 GED diplomas have been earned during that time.


Shakela Martin (left) and Lawanda Harris (middle) credit their mom, Diane Douse (right), with providing a strong foundation of support and encouragement for their success as first-generation college graduates. Harris graduated last night at Savannah Technical College with a dental hygiene degree. Martin, a STC dental hygiene program graduate, will graduate on Saturday with a doctorate of dental medicine from the University of Louisville’s Dental School. Photos by Stephen Morton. 

#1446 | May 9, 2014

STC’s Health Sciences Academic Advisor Heather Valentine
912.443.5721 or

Media Contact: Amy Shaffer, APR
912.443.5512 or

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (