MSDH candidate brings together worlds of teaching and learning at ADEA

Lanette Wedell with Ishita Aghi and Parandis Kazemi at ADEA, on a School of Dentistry branded background

Lanette Wedell, BSDH ’06, MSDH ’22, lives in many worlds at once. Originally an accountant that became a dental hygienist in 2006, she has experience working in the clinical environment. Now, as a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene student, she acts as a learner, a teacher and a colleague. She was able to merge those worlds together at this year’s American Dental Education Association conference.

As a non-traditional student, Wedell is older than many of her fellow students. Rather than seeing this as a detriment, however, she finds great opportunity in her position. “This semester is my fifth time working with dental students in pre-clinc,” she explained. “I love when they have those ‘aha’ moments, and being able to engage with them brings me great joy.”

That work with students is what inspired Wedell to return to school for her master’s degree.

“I love being a hygienist, but my ultimate goal is to work with students a few days a week while I’m working in my private practice.” In the master’s program, Wedell gets a preview of what it is like to work with dental, dental therapy and dental hygiene students while engaging in her own educational journey.

Part of what Wedell loves so much about this melding of worlds is the ways she is able to create opportunities for younger students. When an offer came about to serve as a delegate of the Council of Students, Residents and Fellows at ADEA, Wedell jumped at the opportunity not only because it was a great experience for her, but knowing what it would do for future students. She encouraged her fellow MSDH students to join her and be part of shaping the future of dental education.

“I encouraged them to sign up, and in addition to becoming delegates, one of my fellow students is now a District Eight commissioner,” Wedell said. “With having that mindset of going for things, acting as a leader, I think I was able to help these students get to the next level and encourage them to participate more.”

The experience was valuable for Wedell’s own educational journey, too. She found herself participating both as educator and as student, gaining a better understanding of students’ needs and desires for a post-COVID learning environment. She enjoyed watching Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, present and speak on behalf of Minnesota, and reflected on the experience of witnessing Assistant Dean for Admissions and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Naty Lopez, PhD, MEd, receive an award for her work in anti-racism efforts over the past few years.

Most of all, Wedell loved the opportunity to meet with faculty and students from across the country. “I’m a people watcher,” she explained, “so I really liked observing interactions between students and faculty.”

She returned with great hope for her own future and that of her fellow students. “I live in so many worlds, I’m in an interesting position,” she said. “You get to see all these interactions and pick up information from every side. I hope we can continue to engage with ADEA and other conferences, so we can promote the passion for practice and promote future academic educators.”