WCJC will honor Harrison in naming dental hygiene clinic

Dr. Anna T. Harrison

Wharton County Junior College will celebrate the official naming of the Dr. Anna T. Harrison Dental Hygiene Clinic during a special dedication ceremony, open to the public, on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 11a.m. in the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Health Occupations Center on the Wharton campus.

Anna T. Harrison, D.D.S., was the first female graduate of the University of Alexandria dental program in Egypt, her native land. She completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston and was later named the first director and instructor of the WCJC Dental Hygiene program in the late 1960s.

Though Harrison joined WCJC with the understanding that the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners would provide full funding for the state’s first junior college dental hygiene program, that funding was later withdrawn. Undeterred, the college secured Army surplus dental chairs to start the new program. WCJC’s first class of dental hygiene students was accepted in 1969.

Harrison was the sole faculty member during the program’s first year, assisted by local dentists who volunteered to teach. In 1973, a registered dental hygienist joined Harrison and a second class of students was accepted to WCJC. The college’s first class of dental hygiene students graduated in May 1971.

As the program grew, Harrison changed her role from director to instructor of the most difficult courses in the curriculum. She retired from WCJC in 1996, but the growth of the state’s first junior college dental hygiene program has continued. Today, there is a waiting list for admission into the WCJC Dental Hygiene program, a program where graduates consistently earn a 100 percent pass rate on the national and regional board exams.

“Although Dr. Harrison has retired, her legacy will live on in our dental hygiene clinic,” said Betty McCrohan, WCJC president. “Dr. Harrison was well-liked and set the high standard of excellence that continues today. It is with great pride that we dedicate this clinic in her honor.”

The dental hygiene clinic moved to its current location in the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Health Occupation Building in 1981. Generous funding from the Johnson Foundation has added advanced technology that allows students in the nationally accredited program to receive state-of-the-art training. An on-site dental hygiene clinic, located on the first floor of the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Health Occupation Building, serves more than 1200 patients annually, giving WCJC’s dental hygiene students valuable hands-on experience as well as providing a service to the community.

Following the August 22 dedication ceremony, a light buffet lunch will be served. To ensure adequate accomodations, WCJC requests RSVPs be sent to Rachel Bahnsen by Monday, Aug. 19. Her phone number is 979.532.6442 and her email address is bahnsenr@wcjc.edu

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