Endowment helps students provide service abroad

Northern Arizona University’s Dental Hygiene Program is unique—and groundbreaking—in its requirement that every student complete an externship in a public health dental facility aiding underserved populations. Dr. Susan Mansfield, retired Dental Hygiene faculty and chair and former dean of the College of Health and Human Services, understands the benefits of students developing a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on community needs and the importance of giving back. In response, Susan and her husband, Don, retired NAU political science professor and former associate dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, developed a fund directly supporting students with this Dental Hygiene requirement.

Opportunities around the globe

“The Dental Hygiene program has always been involved in outreach, from students working on Native American reservations to visiting countries outside of the United States,” Susan explains.  “NAU students are on the leading edge of the profession. They look at the world with a wider perspective than those who only see the American private dental office.”

Students who have recently met this requirement speak highly of their experiences.

“Traveling to India to help the underserved was the most rewarding experience of my life,” says Sadi Romero, ’14 BS Dental Hygiene/Biology, who traveled to Mainpat, India, a small refugee village in northern India. “I have grown as a student, as a dental hygiene professional, and as an individual.”

Likewise, Anna Santos, ’14 BS Dental Hygiene, who traveled to both Peru and India for her externships, relishes the benefits of these opportunities.

“I learned so much from serving the Afro-Peruvian people and the Tibetan refugees,” Anna says. “I am encouraged to increase oral health awareness all over the world, and I hope many more students are blessed with the opportunities I have had.”

Lifetime dedication

Dr. Mansfield came to NAU in 1974, when the program was barely a year old. Forty years later, she is as committed to the program as she ever was—the Mansfield Fund to Support Dental Hygiene Student Global Engagement is in addition to a scholarship Susan founded in 2005 with Alicia Feugate, emeritus associate professor. “I want to see the Dental Hygiene program continue its global focus far into the future,” Susan says.

Susan and Don appreciate the interdisciplinary skills and relationships that students develop through the program, and are excited to continue supporting student success through their fund.

“Northern Arizona University offers experiences that students don’t receive in other programs,” Susan says. “Our students are not afraid to go out into the world and make a difference.”

“Northern Arizona University offers experiences that students don’t receive in other programs. Our students are not afraid to go out into the world and make a difference.” – Sadi Romero,