Dr. W. Gail Barnes, assistant professor and junior clinic coordinator for Clayton State University’s Dental Hygiene program, recently addressed the Howard University College of Dentistry, Department of Dental Hygiene, Pinning and Candle Lighting Ceremony in Washington, DC, speaking to an audience of 14 graduating dental hygiene students, their faculty, college administrators, parents and friends.
“It was an honor to be asked to address the seniors on the eve of their graduation as they join a profession that I’m proud to have been a member of for more than 25 years,” says Barnes. “The tradition of a `pinning ceremony’ is a longstanding one which dates back to the 1800’s. When students are deemed ready to enter the professional world, a pin is given to show where they received their college experience and to welcome them to the profession. This ceremony symbolizes the right of passage from dental hygiene student to professional colleague.
“At Howard University, the dental hygiene students also have a candle lighting ceremony and repeat the dental hygiene oath.”
Barnes received her dental hygiene credential from Howard University; her bachelor's and master's degrees in dental auxiliary teacher education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill College of Dentistry; and her doctorate in higher education administration with a minor in hospital and health services administration from The Ohio State University.
In 2007, Barnes received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University’s College of Dentistry for outstanding service to the college of dentistry, the community and the profession of dental hygiene. In January 2007, Barnes joined the faculty at Clayton State after serving as the director of the Forsyth Dental Hygiene Program of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, Massachusetts.
Barnes’ address, entitled, “Oh Happy Day, The Best is Yet to Come,” contained the following thoughts for the graduates…
“As I look back I thought, this is the last time that you will be with this many professionals in an educational setting at one time… I hope that you will practice with integrity, honor and excellence…
I firmly believe that if you graduate from a dental hygiene program; you can do anything that you set your mind to do.”
The College of Dentistry at Howard University was established in 1881. It is the fifth oldest dental school in the United States. As a teaching and patient care institution, the College has trained thousands of highly skilled dental professionals to serve their communities, particularly the underserved. Howard University was founded in 1867.