Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene Program Welcomes New Class With White Coat Ceremony5 min read

June 7, 2022

Dental Hygiene Program Welcomes New Class With White Coat Ceremony5 min read

Class of 2023 student Daelyn Merillat helps Class of 2024 student Anthony Barraco into his coat.

Ann Arbor, Mich., June 7, 2022 – The Dental Hygiene program at the School of Dentistry held its inaugural White Coat Ceremony on May 26 to welcome 40 first-year students into the hygienist profession.

The ceremony is similar to one that has been held for dental students for many years. Dental Hygiene Director Janet Kinney said program administrators decided to add the ceremony for this year’s entering class to commemorate the start of the students’ education and to emphasize the importance of joining the profession of dental hygiene.

Eric Clark assists Brittney Nasir with her clinic coat.

The new class arrived in mid-May to start the two-year program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree. New students already have two years of college credits at the start of the program, so they are considered juniors while second-year students in the program are considered seniors. During the ceremony, seniors who will graduate in spring 2023 helped the Class of 2024 don their white clinic coats embroidered with the new student’s name and the “M Dentistry” logo.

Faculty presented each senior with a rose to mark the halfway point of their two years in the program. The ceremony concluded with students and faculty reciting the Dental Hygiene Oath, which affirms students’ personal and professional commitment to improve the oral health of the public and promote high standards of care.

Haley Harland

In her welcoming remarks, Senior Class President Haley Harland noted that the students are joining a hygiene program, now in its 101st year, at a world-class dental school widely recognized for its oral health research and education. “Walking past you every day are incredible individuals who have committed themselves to integrity, honesty and exceptional service day in and day out,” she said. “The man or woman next to you in (the school’s café) may have just detected oral cancer in their morning patient, saving a life.”

She emphasized the commitment students must make to patients and to their classmates. “Every time you put your arms in these sleeves, you take on the role of not only a professional clinician, but an educator, a trusted confidant and to some a great friend,” she said.

While a common misconception is that hygienists mostly clean teeth, Harland said, their role is much broader and more important. “We catch the tiniest inconsistencies in the oral cavity and help our patient navigate toward health, while creating lasting relationships and mutual trust,” she said “The white coat you put on today does not just signify your role as a clinician, but a joint commitment to take the best care of each other and of our patients. It represents authority, professionalism, and the highest of integrity and a commitment to helping others.”

The new Class of 2024 is the first to enter after the program expanded enrollment to 40 students, an increase from 32 in the Class of 2023 and previous years. The change reflects a higher demand for hygienists, in large measure because many hygienists retired from or did not return to dental practices that were forced to limit or stop treating patients during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melanie Antwan slips into her coat with help from Colleen Rolland.
Senior Angelica Jackson receives a rose and hug from faculty member Saba Jahanbin as other faculty members watch.
DH students and faculty close the ceremony by reciting the Dental Hygiene Oath.
The newly arrived Class of 2024
The Class of 2023


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.