Mary Beth Andrews dedicates most of her time to smiles, preserving them as a dental hygiene student and creating them as captain of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith cheer team.
The 20-year-old junior from West Fork has taken the leadership skills she has developed as cheer captain and applied them to her dental hygiene major.
“Cheerleading is a sport that takes every single member of the team,” she said. “Learning to rely on others and support them when they need me is going to benefit me whenever I eventually am hired in an office and become part of a dental team.”
Andrews also said that a big part of being cheer captain is being able to make quick decisions under pressure, such as what cheers to perform and when.
“These decisions have to be made quickly with the pressure of the whole team looking at me and waiting on my response. They are trusting me to guide them in the right direction. This is extremely similar to the trust that my future patients will place in me when they come to me seeking dental care.”
In addition to her leadership skills, Andrews says cheer has also prepared her for the challenges of learning the physical skills associated with her major as well as the ability to accept and learn from critiques.
“In both cheer and dental hygiene, the only way to learn a new skill is to try,” she said. “In cheer I don’t get upset when I do horribly the first time I try a new skill. In fact, I expect it. Instead of getting frustrated in clinic, I was able to simply adopt this mindset.”
Andrews said she chose dental hygiene for the opportunities to give back to her community and make a personal impact on the health and overall well-being of her patients by serving at community dental clinics.
“I am thankful for my involvement at UAFS because not only has it prepared me to be an impactful servant to my community and church, but it has also prepared me to balance such activities with a career in dental hygiene.”
Andrews and her fellow dental hygiene students will be giving back this spring with two community events: Free Extraction Day and After School Smilz. Free Extraction Day will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and is open on a first-come, first-served basis to all members of the community. After School Smilz will take place Tuesday, Feb. 12, and Tuesday, March 12, to offer dental cleaning, exams, and preventative services to area children.
Both events will take place at the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center on the UAFS campus, 715 N. Waldron Road. For more information on Free Extraction Day or After School Smilz, contact the UAFS Dental Hygiene Clinic at 479-788-7270.