Dental Foundation, Dental Hygiene, Students

Historic Gift to Dental Hygiene Program

The United States flag flies near the Morehead Patterson Bell Tower at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry announced a historic gift to the dental hygiene program.

The bequest from Southport residents, Ms. Judith Mahan Carmichael, BS ’75, a graduate of the Adams School of Dentistry’s dental hygiene program, and Mr. Ronald W. Carmichael, is the largest gift to the dental hygiene program to date and will establish the Judith Mahan Carmichael Scholarship for dental hygiene students with military affiliation.

The Carmichaels’ gift honors the army career of Ms. Carmichael’s father, Lt. Col. Francis L. Mahan, a WWII veteran, and her mother, Rose, as a dedicated army spouse. Mr. Carmichael and his brother also served in the Army National Guard for six years.

“I realize now the sacrifices both my parents made to educate their three children on a military salary,” said Ms. Carmichael. “We hope to ease this financial pressure for others who have served honorably in our armed forces. We are very thankful to the Vetters for the opportunity to take part in their Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge!”

“It is an absolute honor to receive this historic gift in support of our students and program,” said Director of the Graduate Dental Hygiene Education Program and Director of the Dental Hygiene Program Jennie Brame, RDH, MS.

“This gift will provide students with greater access to a preeminent education and further advance our commitment to students who begin school from a variety of nontraditional tracks. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunities that are now available to our military-affiliated students through Mr. and Ms. Carmichael’s gift, and the support it provides students on their journey to academic success and becoming a dental hygienist.”

This gift continues the University’s tradition of support for service personnel and their families who have done so much to preserve freedoms and protect the welfare of Americans. The scholarship will provide invaluable support for students who may struggle to meet the rising costs of college and ensure that students are able to pursue their dreams without financial limitations.

“We’re honored that Judy and Ron chose to support military affiliated dental hygiene students and their families with an endowed scholarship,” said Senior Director of Development Sarah Huppert. “The impact of this scholarship extends far beyond the one recipient — it will provide much needed financial relief for students and their families for generations to come.”

Alicia Hojara, a second-year dental hygiene student and United States Marine veteran, said like many veterans, she was unsure of which direction to take once her service ended. The two things that drew her to dental hygiene were the ability to provide care to others and the high standard of care expected of dental hygienists.

“That sense of structure and discipline ultimately made my decision to pursue this path an easy one,” said Hojara. “Being a United States Marine, I know what it means to be the best of the best. I lived a life of pursuing high standards and meeting those standards. The Adams School of Dentistry is the epitome of that, and being a part of this institution has given me that sense of fulfillment I’ve missed since I transitioned out of the military.

“For any military members, no matter the branch, this would be a very enticing avenue for them to pursue. Mission accomplishment, teamwork, and service are instilled in every military member. The Adams School of Dentistry can help them continue that long after they hang up their uniforms and put on a lab coat.”

Hojara said a scholarship of this magnitude would greatly alleviate some of the obstacles military affiliated students have to overcome, such as not knowing where they will live or how they can support themselves and their families.

“Simply knowing that Adams School of Dentistry is reaching out to assist military members and their families gives me that sense of camaraderie and being a part of a team again,” said Hojara. “I couldn’t think of a better team to be on, as I go through this journey of becoming a dental hygienist.”

The Carmichaels’ gift counts toward the University’s Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge to raise $40 million in need-based scholarships for students with military affiliations.

North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation with over 100,000 active duty personnel stationed in the state. In fall 2019, Carolina enrolled 398 undergraduate first-year and transfer students affiliated with the military, the large majority of whom were military dependents. Of those 398, well more than half qualified for — and received — financial aid.

Carolina is alleviating the financial burden of students from military families, thanks to a commitment from 1978 alumni Steve and Debbie Vetter of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Vetters — children of veterans themselves — are inspiring the Carolina community to come together and double the impact of their $20 million gift through the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge.