“YES! That is the secret of LVC,” said Dr. Jennifer “Jen” Davis ’96, owner of Cleona Dental, when asked whether she had any inspirational professors while an undergraduate. “I had the gift of so many faculty extending their time and energies toward my learning. I would not have moved forward to a graduate degree [D.D.S., The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine] without having such strong support throughout my years at LVC and while I was a graduate student,” added Davis.
Dr. Donald Dahlberg, professor emeritus of chemistry and director of science internships, and Dr. Owen Moe, professor emeritus of chemistry and longtime chair of the department, were among those Davis mentioned, as well as the late Dr. Carl Wigal, with whom she conducted student-faculty research and co-published an article in The Journal of Organic Chemistry.
Davis arrived at LVC after receiving a certificate in dental hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and working as a dental hygienist for a decade, a career she continued to pursue while earning her chemistry degree part-time at The Valley. After graduating from Penn, she joined a local dental practice, later buying the practice, and reconnecting with her alma mater through offering job shadowing opportunities for students interested in dental careers. Dr. Katelyn “Katie” Wray ’15 was among those who shadowed Davis as an undergraduate.
“Katie was a mentee while at LVC, and we kept in touch after she enrolled in the University of Maryland School of Dentistry,” said Davis. “I was coincidentally looking for an associate when Katie was in her final year of dental school. We took the leap and continue to work as a team to share the workload of a growing practice.”
Davis has since mentored several other future dentists from The Valley, including writing letters of recommendation to dental schools.
“It’s an exciting transition to watch these passionate young adults pursue their dreams.”
Through another LVC connection, Wray, who started job shadowing Davis one day per week as a sophomore, found out about the local alumna from a senior classmate, who was exploring dental schools. “I reached out to Dr. Davis; the rest is history!”
“LVC was one of the only colleges that took the time to explain their Pre-Health Professions Committee, processes, and medical school acceptance rates during my visits,” said Wray, who knew she wanted to be a dentist. “I was thrilled that I could major in biology and still participate in the Pride of The Valley Marching Band.”
Like Davis, Wray acknowledged the impact numerous LVC faculty had on her education and career, particularly noting Dr. Kristen Boeshore, director of pre-health professions and professor of biology, and Dr. Wally Patton, chair of chemistry and physics and associate professor of chemistry. “Dr. Boeshore and Dr. Patton were extremely supportive and helpful in guiding me through my dental school applications. I also want to acknowledge Dr. Chris Heffner [co-chair and associate professor of music and director of the Pride of The Valley]. He encourages non-music majors to participate in the marching band and other music ensembles. I love the idea that students can pursue any of their interests during their time at LVC.”
Today, Wray is an active regional and state dental community member. She is a past president of the Lebanon County Dental Society and current president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association’s 4th District Dental Society.
“The LVC faculty care about their students and are proud when they succeed, and I will forever be grateful for all that they have taught me,” said Wray.