Living in Washington Heights, NY with her daughter, Shantiel Morel decided to relocate to study dental hygiene at the Northampton Community College (NCC) Fowler Family Southside Center after hearing about the program from graduates. Seeing a well-respected friend and co-worker care for patients as a hygienist motivated Morel to pursue the same career.
“To this day, there is no other hygienist I have met that has a comparable amount of passion, dedication, empathy, and efficiency she has. I want to be like her.”
One of Morel’s favorite parts of the program were the afternoon rotations at the St. Luke’s Dental Clinic located on the second floor of the Fowler Center and open to the public. This is where students learn about radiography and imaging with the opportunity to practice their skills on patients.
Morel’s personal life during her program wasn’t easy. In her first year, she went through displacement of housing and was living in a pay-by-week motel with her daughter. It was what Morel could afford, and it was a roof over their heads until they were able to secure something more stable.
“It took a few months for me to save up enough money through my two jobs for a deposit and to pay the monthly rent without fearing eviction,” Morel recalls, having many sleepless nights as she balanced multiple jobs with her studies.
“During those nights when I was cleaning homes, I would take my daughter with me and have her sleep on her nap mat while I cleaned since I did not know anyone I could trust to leave her with.”
Morel is thankful to Elizabeth Betsy Greer and Maryann Haytmanek, who both helped her find resources to get back on her feet while attending NCC. Morel also received the Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Scholarship, the Arnold R. Cook Dental Hygiene Examination Scholarship, and the Louise Moore Pine Scholarship while at the college.
“The best part of my program is being able to walk across that stage on May 25, 2023. I will not tell you it is easy. What I can tell you is that it will be worth it in the end!”
After NCC, Morel plans on successfully passing her boards and being able to attain employment in the community dental health sector. “I grew up below the poverty line and was, and still am, on Medicaid, which has forever left an imprint on my heart to want to give back and to be of service to the patients that are facing financial barriers.”