The DALE Foundation names 2021 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship winners

Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship winners 2021

The DALE Foundation, the official affiliate of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), has selected four winners of the 2021 Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship.

Joanna L. Girdner, CDA, EFDA, of Westerville, Ohio, has been working in the dental assisting profession for nearly 20 years. She now has her sights set on earning an associate degree in dental hygiene from Columbus State Community College, where she’s currently enrolled. Girdner plans to use her scholarship earnings toward the tuition cost.

“I have dedicated myself to learning everything I can,” says Girdner. “I have a ferocious appetite for knowledge. Learning will not stop with earning my associate degree. I will continue my journey to obtain my bachelor’s degree as well in dental hygiene, and I hope to finish my career by teaching the future generation of dental professionals.”

Kalyn Rhodes, CDA, of Murphysboro, Illinois, has been a dental assistant for more than four years for Shawnee Health Service in southern Illinois. Since June 2021, she has been working toward completing the expanded functions dental assisting program at John A. Logan College and plans to use her scholarship to offset the tuition cost.

“I have been on the search for more ways to provide for my patients,” says Rhodes. “Bringing new expanded-functions skill sets to my practice will not only help in developing my lifelong career in oral healthcare, but also bring more opportunities to mentor other dental assistants looking to grow in this rewarding and ever-changing field.”

Clarissa Torgersen, of Ingleside, Illinois, has been working at a pediatric dental practice in Lake Zurich, Illinois, for nearly nine years. In 2016, she transitioned from the role of assistant to clinical coordinator for the practice. Her responsibilities now include overseeing clinical staff training, mentoring new dental assistants and coordinating staff continuing education. Education remains top of mind for Torgersen in her own career as well – she plans to put her scholarship toward earning DANB certification, plus an expanded functions dental assistant credential.

“This scholarship would be a tremendous help in my continuous efforts of obtaining as much education and training to further my career in the oral healthcare field,” says Torgersen. “I have many education and career goals, plus an overall passion for dentistry.”

Jacqueline Wilson, of Forest, Virginia, has been working as a dental assistant for almost eight years. She plans to put her scholarship funds toward earning DANB Certified Dental Assistant™ (CDA®) certification.

“I am very eager to pass the required exams to finally obtain DANB CDA certification,” says Wilson. “This scholarship will help me to further advance my education and career goals. I strive to go on to earn DANB Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA®) certification as well. Through holding DANB certifications, I feel I’ll be able to do even more not only for my employers, but also for my community. I am so passionate about dentistry.”

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. The scholarship is open to all dental assistants, DANB certificants and other oral healthcare professionals, to support the professional development of dental auxiliaries. Winners receive between $500 and $1,000 plus three continuing education products of their choice from the DALE Foundation. Scholarship funds can be used for professional development activities, such as continuing education courses, dental conferences, DANB certification renewal and college courses. For more information, visit the Scholarships page at