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Mother, daughter find their calling through Blinn College’s Dental Hygiene Program

Magen Herrington follows in her mother’s footsteps to pursue career training

June 13, 2016

Dana Herrington & Magen HerringtonFor Dana Herrington, her passion began with horses’ teeth. For Magen Herrington, it started with clinic visits. For both, it has resulted in a lifelong passion for improving the lives of others.

It took Dana Herrington 30 years to realize her favorite pastime of maintaining the family horses’ oral health was more than a girlhood quirk.

Dana Herrington began taking classes on the Blinn-College Brenham campus in 1980, then transferred to Sam Houston State University. In 1983, she married her husband and started a family. After providing day care for children at a Cypress church and caring for her three children as a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, Dana decided it was time to start a career.

At 42, she was one of 14 students admitted to Blinn College’s highly competitive Dental Hygiene Program, which prepares students for a career as a dental hygienist, or for transfer into a bachelor degree program at a four-year university. Based at the College’s Post Office Campus, Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Program is equipped with a dental hygiene clinic and highly-qualified faculty who work closely with students in the classroom and clinical settings.

After two years of a 1 ½-hour daily commute, Dana Herrington earned her Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and passed the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. She has been a dental hygienist in a Cypress clinic ever since, sharing her passion for improving lives.

“Because of Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Program, I get to go to work every day and do what I love,” Dana Herrington said.

“You see different patients and you form relationships with them. It’s so much more than a job.”

Dana Herrington’s affection for her career has inspired her daughter, Magen, who began Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Program in the Fall. She expects to graduate in May 2017.

“I remember when Mom would take me to clinic with her to clean my teeth,” Magen said. “I always saw how happy she was, and I knew I wanted to do the same thing.”

Magen felt prepared for the challenge after watching her mom balance an arduous workload of lecture material and hands-on clinical experience.

“This program is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Magen said. “I watched my mom study nonstop, but I thought it was because she had three kids. I don’t have kids and I have to study constantly. It’s tough, but I know Blinn is completely preparing me to be a confident, skilled dental hygienist.”

The challenge has been worth it, both Herringtons say. So much so, in fact, that the mother-daughter pair each commuted from Cypress to participate in the program.

“I didn’t even apply to other schools in Houston,” Magen said. “I know that Blinn cares about its students and doesn’t treat them like a number. And the pass rate on the national exam is so high—they over-prepare you because they want you to succeed.”

Dana Wood, Dental Hygiene Program instructor, taught Dana Herrington and is now teaching Magen, a first for the 19-year Blinn veteran.

“They both have incredible work ethic and are always smiling,” Wood said. “They’re both amazing people. The world is fortunate that they have found their calling and have such a passion for it.”

The feeling is mutual. The Herringtons speak highly of Wood, as well as instructors Marque Mathis and Laurie Rowland. Dana Herrington said her caring instructors eased her fears of being the oldest person in her class.

“Mrs. Wood did a great job preparing me for the real-world,” Dana Herrington said. “She always encouraged me to push through, no matter how tired I was. I am so happy to have graduated from this amazing program, and I am thrilled that my daughter is getting the same great experience at Blinn.”

Prospective students interested in the program are invited to attend a session that provides information regarding the program’s admissions criteria, application process and the role of a registered dental hygienist. Information sessions will be held Friday, June 24, at 1 p.m. and Tuesday, July 26, at 6 p.m. in Room CC-6 of the Post Office campus located at 301 Post Office St. in Bryan.

Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Upon successful completion of coursework, students receive an Associate of Applied Science degree and are eligible to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a regional or state board clinical exam. After graduating from the program, students can earn more than $30 an hour as dental hygienists.