Shayna Stuffle ʼ20, Dental Hygiene, knew from a young age that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. As a recipient of a national grant through the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), she’s achieving her goal.
Stuffle’s project, providing dental hygiene treatment and products to victims of domestic and sexual violence, earned $5,000 from the Mars Wrigley Foundation’s Healthier Smiles Grant Program.
“I have had the privilege of mentoring Shayna as she completes her final project through the USI Honors Program," said Mandy Reddington, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting. “Her project idea began with wanting to learn more about a career in public health dentistry and quickly evolved into a project that could increase access to dental care for survivors of abuse.”
In fall 2019, Stuffle received a USI Endeavor Award to provide dental hygiene treatment for clients of Evansville’s Albion Fellows Bacon Center, a non-profit organization that provides services to victims of abuse, at USI’s Dental Hygiene Clinic during the spring 2020 semester. The additional funding from the ADHA will allow USI to continue offering Albion clients dental hygiene care during the fall 2020 semester.
“As part of her Honors project, Shayna was able to donate 800 toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and several hundred bottles of mouth rinse to Albion Fellows Bacon Center,” said Reddington. “There is enough product so that every person who seeks services from this agency for the next calendar year will receive one of each.”
Stuffle learned about Albion Fellows Bacon Center through a donation drive conducted by a campus religious life organization her freshman year.
“When the student in charge of the drive explained how they impact the community, I immediately wanted to donate and find other ways to assist this organization in their mission,” she said. “This project helps survivors of abuse receive care they may not otherwise have access to. They will also be provided education on their oral health, including ways to prevent disease.”
Stuffle says her project is also an important professional development opportunity for her and her fellow dental hygiene classmates who are providing care for the Albion clients. “Working with these survivors exposes us to signs of abuse so that we can recognize those signs in the future, as well as enables us to create oral health education tailored to their needs,” she said.
A native of Loogootee, Indiana, Stuffle said the only career she ever considered pursuing is dental hygiene.
“Growing up and having an amazing dental hygienist, interning while in high school and witnessing the difference dental hygienists can make with their patients made me feel secure in my career choice,” she said. “As I have been more exposed to the dental hygiene field, there have been many individuals who have inspired me to keep working diligently and making a difference, as they have made a difference in my professional life.”