West Los Angeles College is now one step closer to offering a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
The community college was notified on Jan. 20 that it had been chosen as part of a pilot program that will allow community colleges the opportunity to offer bachelor’s degrees in selected academic fields. Legislation sponsored last year by state Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) created the initiative that was signed into laws by Gov. Jerry Brown.
West Los Angeles was one of 15 community colleges out of 34 applicants to be chosen.
“The selection of this program at West Los Angeles College is wonderful news for prospective students and the entire district,” Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District Dr. Francisco Rodriguez said. “It affirms the excellence of our faculty, curriculum, and facilities in dental hygiene, and the great partnerships we have in the Los Angeles region with prospective employers. The opportunity to make this high quality, four-year degree available for roughly $10,500 in this high-need profession suggests to me that we will be immediately oversubscribed.”
West Los Angeles College President Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh noted that dental hygienists have trained at the community college for more than a decade and have a 100 percent record of passing the same state board examinations that are required of student in bachelor’s programs.
“As West Los Angeles College continues to expand access for our communities to education and economic opportunity, offering a bachelor’s in dental hygiene will give our graduates access to a top quality education at a most affordable cost. Receiving the bachelor’s degree from West will open the door for our graduates to private practice, leadership positions, and transfer into master’s programs,” Abu-Ghazaleh said.
Carmen Dones, the college’s allied health division chair, thinks the bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene will allow West Los Angeles to appeal to a wider array of students.
“West Los Angeles College is very excited to be granted the opportunity to offer a bachelor degree in Dental hygiene for the students in our district and the community,” Dones said. “This has been a long time coming, a game changer for graduates of the program, and it will open doors that were barriers in the past. Graduates will now be able to apply for jobs such as an educator, researcher and corporate representatives, in addition to clinical practice.”
The 15 selected programs are required to undergo a final review by the California Community Colleges Chancellor, the California State University and University of California before final approval is considered by the state community college board of governors in March.
“I have been receiving phone calls, emails and visits from interested students who are excited about this opportunity,” Dones said. “I’m sure that the college will attract students from everywhere since our program will be affordable in comparison to private colleges.”