Pacific Dental Services Foundation Announces Winter 2022 Dental Assistant Scholarship Recipients and Celebrates Year in Review

Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10:44pm UTC

IRVINE, CALIF., Jan. 26, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Pacific Dental Services® (PDS) Foundation is proud to announce that 13 dental assisting (DA) students were awarded a total of $65,000 as the Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship recipients for Winter 2022. The virtual awards celebration took place Dec. 17, 2022 and recognized students from nine states across the country.

Named after Carolyn Ghazal, DDS, a member of the PDS Foundation Board of Directors, this educational scholarship provides DA students with need-based financial aid, mentorship, on-the-job training, and aims to mold the next generation of passionate, servant-hearted dental leaders. Since the program’s inception in 2016, the PDS Foundation has awarded over $1.1 million in scholarships to 190 students pursuing their educational goals within the dental field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of DAs is projected to grow eight percent from 2021 to 2031. However, financial hardship often prevents many students from finishing school. Recognizing the importance of DAs to the future of dentistry, the PDS Foundation created this scholarship to provide students with the financial support they need to complete their education.

“I am so honored to have my name associated with such a worthwhile endeavor that is investing in the lives, education and futures of DA students throughout the nation,” said Dr. Ghazal. “My hope is that this financial support can help remove a barrier for students, and the mentorship they receive through the program will allow them the opportunity to pursue a noble career in dental assisting.”

Winter 2022 Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship Recipients:

Student Academic Institution City, State
Jasmine Cahoon  Southeastern Technical Institute South Easton, Mass.
Vanessa Cruz   UEI College Las Vegas, Nev.  
Sarah Hamilton  Dakota County Technical College Rosemount, Minn. 
Haleigh Harris  Travis Tech College Lakeland, Fla.
Brittany Holmes Concorde Career College Tampa, Fla.
Aleahzia Jenkins Concorde Career College Dallas, Texas
Kaela Lee  Elite Dental Assisting Academy Vancouver, Wash. 
Maria Del Pilar Zamora Morales  Southeastern Technical Institute South Easton, Mass.  
Annette Nichols Concorde Career College Kansas City, Mo. 
Kassy Ponce Mt. Diablo Adult Education  Concord, Calif.
Halima-Sadia Sheikh  Hennepin Technical College Eden Prairie, Minn.
Breaina Stell  Concorde Career College Kansas City, Mo. 
Tay Tsosie  Pima Medical Institute Mesa, Ariz. 

Scholarships are awarded on a quarterly basis to DA students to help cover tuition expenses. The Scholarship Review Committee awards scholarships based on applicants' financial need, heart for service, career aspirations, and other criteria. With 357 applicants in 2022 alone, 57 scholarships were awarded to recipients in 17 states, totaling over $276,000.

Michael Le, Executive Director of the PDS Foundation, credits a large part of the success of a dental practice to its DAs. Therefore, through his role, Le seeks to raise the DA profession through support from the PDS Foundation.

“We are proud to elevate dental assistants all across the country,” Le said. “We believe that by investing in dental assistants at the educational level and partnering with PDS-supported practices to provide externships and mentoring, we are creating a happy workforce that meets the dental field’s current demand. It is through our donor’s generosity that we can partner with students to invest in the future of the DA profession.”

To apply for a dental assistant scholarship, please visit The deadline for scholarships awarded in March is Feb. 1, 2023.

Pacific Dental Services Foundation 2022 Year in Review

In the last year, the PDS Foundation achieved several milestones thanks to the support of its donors, partners and friends. Highlights from the PDS Foundation’s list of successes in 2022 include:

International Service

  • The PDS Foundation Clinica Dental in Xenacoj, Guatemala served over 1,200 patients and provided $800,000 in donated dental care throughout the year.

  • Completed three volunteer trips to Guatemala to provide free dental care and other support to residents, impacting over 1,800 lives and exceeding $540,000 in donated dentistry

Dentistry for Those with Special Needs

  • PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs office in Phoenix, Ariz. had 5,530 patient visits, including 550 new patients, in 2022 – a 62% increase over the prior year.

  • Partnered with Smile Generation to raise over $573,000 to increase access to dental care for patients with special needs and to provide specialized training for clinicians focused on special needs dentistry.
    • The 60-day “Smile for Special Needs” campaign ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. In total, over 8,000 donors contributed to the campaign to raise over $370,000.
    • The week-long “Stroll for Special Needs 5K” event brought supporters together in different communities across the nation to stroll, run, walk, or roll to raise funds for the cause. Over 1,000 participants in 27 states joined the efforts and “strolled” a combined total of over 3,000 miles to raise more than $203,000.

  • Hosted residency programs to help train dental students and dental hygiene students in special needs dentistry.

Looking Ahead

Looking forward to 2023, the PDS Foundation seeks to impact overall health by improving oral health through service opportunities locally, nationally and around the world.

Click here to learn more about the PDS Foundation and make a tax-deductible gift today.


About Pacific Dental Services Foundation

The Pacific Dental Services Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to improve overall health by improving oral health, through opportunities to serve locally, nationally, and internationally. With that in mind, the PDS Foundation provides tools and resources to help build a lasting and sustainable impact on the communities we serve as well as on the volunteers who freely give their time. The vision of the PDS Foundation is a world where everyone has a heart to serve and a home for oral health. Through its three main programs: special needs dentistry, dental assistant scholarships and international service trips, the PDS Foundation has been able to increase access to oral healthcare for communities across the globe. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook: @pdsfoundation, Instagram: @pdsfoundation, Twitter: @pdsfoundation,YouTube: @pdsfoundation.

Ellen Driscoll