Q & A with Mary Catherine Dean

Meet Mary Catherine Dean - Degree Completion Coordinator for the Bachelor of Applied Science Program in Dental Hygiene


Degrees & Certificates

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene from West Virginia University and a Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
  • Licenses to practice dental hygiene in Texas and Colorado
  • Bachelor of Science – Dental Hygiene | West Virginia University
  • Master of Science – Dental Hygiene Education | University of Missouri-Kansas City


  • American Dental Hygienists Association
  • American Dental Education Association

Q & A

What do you do at CCD?

I teach in the Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Science program in both the clinic and classroom. In the classroom, I teach Preventive Dentistry and General and Oral Pathology to first-year dental hygiene students. In the clinic, I oversee student dental hygienists during dental hygiene treatment of clinic patients. Dental hygiene operates a clinic up to three days a week during the CCD school year and it is a great place to get your teeth cleaned, not to mention, oral cancer screenings, x-rays, sealants, and a dental exams.

All of the patients treated in our clinic receive care at a reduced rate over private practice but students (whether a CCD student or a student at another school) get an addition fee reduction when treated by one of our dental hygiene students. Faculty like myself closely monitors all the care provided.

I am also coordinating the launch of CCD’s Bachelor of Applied Science online program in Dental Hygiene and working on the curriculum. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is currently reviewing the program and once we have our approval, I will be recruiting students to participate in the program. Right now, I am working on getting the application process in place so that we can admit our first class in the fall of 2016.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I took a few years away from teaching dental hygiene to pursue a career in real estate and also private practice dental hygiene. What I missed most was the excitement of seeing students grasp new concepts and achieve a goal. Seeing the “light bulb go off” and knowing as a teacher I had a hand in that – learning a new idea or concept is something I enjoy. Being able to make a difference in someone’s life and to watch him or her progress from the first day of dental hygiene school until graduation and be a part of his or her journey is extremely rewarding to me.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

Since moving to Colorado in 2014, my family and I have loved being outdoors. Most of my free time is spent either running, skiing or playing golf. We have had lots of visitors from all over the country and have been able to show them around the area and take advantage of the hiking trails nearby. I also spend a lot of time following college sports. I have remained loyal to my undergraduate alma mater, West Virginia University. If I can watch WVU football or basketball on TV or listen in on a broadcast I will.

What moment at CCD stands out as the most memorable?

The level of support, camaraderie and enthusiasm in the dental hygiene department is remarkable. The group, both fulltime and adjunct faculty, is very cohesive and has tons of energy. You can’t help but get excited about what you do when you work with these individuals.

Who had the greatest influence on your education and/or career path?

My undergraduate program director from West Virginia University, Barbara Komives, who was my first mentor. She was a taskmaster in undergraduate school but once I went on to graduate school at UMKC, she made herself available to me whenever I needed advice or an advocate.

Linda Rubenstein DeVore was also very supportive of me and became the chairperson of the dental hygiene department at the University of Maryland. Linda was the calmest, most objective individual I had ever met. She was also an excellent writer. I learned so much from her that I had to mention her.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I ever received was to “believe in myself.” Faith and belief in my ability to work hard and that I had the skills to be successful was something that took a while to sink in and the two women I mentioned above were the two that really showed me I could achieve my goals. I have had some other mentors and role models over the years and that was a consistent theme with all of them.

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner, and why?

This is a hard question, but I would pick two writers, J.K. Rowling and Diana Gabaldon; I love their creativity! The stories in Harry Potter and Outlander are intricate, rich stories that I can read over and over again. I want to know how they came up with these stories and where their inspiration comes from to be able to be such a gifted writer.

The third person is very strong woman that had a big influence on my life as a teen, Grayce Esponda Miller. She was a rancher in northern Wyoming. I would like to talk to her as an adult. She taught me how to ride horses, drive a stick shift, herd sheep, shoot a rifle, and pull a calf. Grayce was one of those people that was bigger than life and always wanted everyone around her to be involved in what she was doing and I was happy to tag along.

What or who can’t you live without?

My husband, who has always been supportive of me and my goals. And of course I would have a hard time living without my kids too. Besides the fact that I love them dearly, we enjoy spending time together as a family. They make me laugh and we all have similar interests so we can find lots of things to do together as a family.