Shaunda Shaw & Shineil Taylor
Brianna Ebony Simpson
Dental Hygiene professor Pam Cushenan has spent a lifetime serving others. Now, she is encouraging her students at Georgia Perimeter College to do the same.
She served her country for three years in the United States Air Force before entering the dental hygiene program at Tennessee State University and MeHarry Medical College. Cushenan went on to work in the private-practice sector for 16 years before joining GPC in 2005.
Outside of the classroom, Cushenan helps her community through a variety of projects and brings her students along for the experience. She organizes dental health outreach programs for the Special Olympics, local schools, nursing homes and health fairs. In 2006, Cushenan started SOFT Smiles: Specialized Oral-Focused Training to provide oral health education for aging and special-needs patients and their caregivers.
She began as an adjunct professor, working one day per week. Within her first year as an educator, she was hooked. “Seeing the light in a student’s eyes when they grasp a new concept” inspired her to pursue education more seriously. She completed her master’s degree the following year and accepted a full-time position in the GPC Dental Hygiene department.
Cushenan credits her years of experience in the private-practice sector as the source of her teaching style: “My experiences keep me centered in real-world instruction and have provided a comprehensive background in various segments of dentistry.” She still works occasionally as a temp in private offices to stay sharp between semesters. The expertise of Cushenan and her fellow dental hygiene professors has contributed to the 100 percent student pass rate on the national board exam for the past five years at GPC.
After a full day of making patients smile, Cushenan cuts loose playing electric guitar, keyboard and singing lead and harmony with The Loose Shoes Band. The blues/rock quartet plays local bars and has even performed at a few GPC events.
Cushenan looks forward to developing the Georgia Perimeter College dental hygiene facility into an even more comprehensive care center for underserved populations, reaching more students using the Care-a-van mobile unit and working with other GPC departments to create forums that educate the entire community that the school serves.