Recipients selected for the 2022 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship

2022 Liz Koch Scholarship winners collage

The DALE Foundation, the official affiliate of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), has named five recipients of the 2022 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship. These recipients were chosen from more than 90 applicants across the country.

Ashley Blake, of Littleton, Maine, has worked as a dental assistant at a private dental practice in Houlton for more than three years. She plans to use her scholarship award to offset the cost of the DANB General Chairside Assisting exam, in pursuit of earning DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification.

“Having my CDA credential isn’t just a dream anymore, because I am so close to completing it! And my dental assistant career won’t cease there,” Blake shares. “I plan on furthering my studies and eventually earning an expanded functions credential. I’m always challenging myself to learn. I’m passionate about patient oral healthcare and patient safety and satisfaction.”

Rachelle Keyonnie, CDA, of Winslow, Arizona, has been a dental assistant at Winslow Indian Health Care Center for more than five years, and has completed expanded functions training through Indian Health Services. Keyonnie is working toward an associate degree in arts at Northland Pioneer College with plans to focus on public health. She expects to graduate in spring 2023, and her scholarship award will go toward offsetting that cost. In her career, Keyonnie strives to continue mentoring dental assistant colleagues and aims to earn a bachelor’s degree and go further into the dental field.

“The Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship funds will help me reach my goals,” Keyonnie says. “This is something I want more than anything, to make my family proud. I love dentistry and want to reach 50 years in the field — like my mother, who was a CDA certificant through DANB for 49 years!”

Stacey Kruger, CDA, CDIPC, of Wabasha, Minnesota, works as the lead dental assistant at Wabasha Dentistry. She has been in the dental field for more than five years, holding the roles of dental assistant, lead assistant, and infection control officer. Kruger graduated from Rochester Community and Technical College in spring 2018 and shortly after earned DANB CDA certification. Kruger also has earned Certified in Dental Infection Prevention and Control (CDIPC) certification, and she intends to use her scholarship award to obtain Dental Industry Specialist in Infection Prevention and Control (DISIPC) certification.

“My plan for professional development is to further my dental career in the infection control field. In doing this, I will open doors to my future,” Kruger shares. “I have held my head high and committed to learning all about the regulations we are required to follow to keep our patients safe, along with ourselves.”

Kayla Marks, CDA, of Stoughton, Wisconsin, is a dental assistant instructor at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, serving on the Blackhawk Technical College Dental Advisory Board. She has spent more than 20 years in the dental field, as both a dental assistant and dental hygienist. Marks holds an associate degree in dental hygiene from Madison Area Technical College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and sociology from the University of Wisconsin (UW)-La Crosse. Marks plans to use her scholarship award for a certificate in career and technical education leadership from UW-Stout.

“Throughout my career, I have been especially drawn toward team leadership, coordinating continuing education experiences, and implementing new systems. Ultimately, I found the roles that provide me with the most fulfillment are teaching and leading,” Marks shares. “The Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship will help me immensely to complete my leadership certificate curriculum. I am a determined and focused person, and I will continue to bring experience, compassion, and empathy to the learning experience of my students.”

Charlene Thomas, CDA, EFDA, of Boise, Idaho, has been working in dental assisting for more than 20 years. In 2015, she joined Terry Reilly Health Services, a federally qualified health center, where Thomas currently serves as Dental Assistant Supervisor. She plans to use her award toward attending the 2022 National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) Annual Conference, as well as obtaining DANB CDIPC certification.

“As an NNOHA member, I have enjoyed the experience of getting to connect with others, while also expanding my clinical knowledge. These conferences have provided a wealth of information on best practices to bring back to our offices to modify our workflows,” says Thomas. “Last year at the NNOHA conference in San Antonio is where I learned about CDIPC certification, and since then it has become a professional-development goal. Infection prevention and control is a topic that I am very interested in and passionate about. It’s important to keep ourselves, our peers, and our patients safe.”

About the Scholarship

The DALE Foundation launched the Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship in 2014 to honor the late Liz Koch, who served as Chief Operating Officer of DANB and the DALE Foundation before her untimely passing in 2011. This scholarship honors her dedication to encouraging and elevating dental assistants at all stages of their careers. The scholarship is open to all dental assistants, DANB certificants and other oral healthcare professionals, to support the professional development of dental auxiliaries.

Scholarship recipients are selected based on their professional development plans for oral healthcare career development, and mentoring others in ways that promote oral health or the oral healthcare professions. Each recipient receives between $250 and $1,000, as well as access to three products of their choice from the DALE Foundation catalog. Scholarship funds can be used for professional development activities, such as continuing education courses, dental conferences, DANB certification renewal, and college courses.

Learn more about the scholarship.