She Makes Her Pitch
An elite softball player earns honors on the mound and hits a home run in the Dental Hygiene Department.
As a middle school student, Madeleine Smith ’21 had more on her mind than school, sports, and friends. She pictured herself as a dental hygienist someday, and would play-act with her grandparents as if she were really working on their mouths and gums. So at an early age, Smith was already sinking her teeth into her future profession.
“Some kids play doctor or house, but I distinctly remember playing dental hygienist at my grandparents’ house,” Smith says. “They had these recliner chairs, which were perfect. My grandparents were generous enough to let me floss and brush their teeth. I would pretend to take x-rays by placing a heavy blanket on them, and then press a pretend button. Something about the profession sparked an interest in me at a very young age.
“I looked forward to my dentist appointments, which is saying something, since most people cannot stand the dentist. My hygienists are always so kind and truly care about my oral health, which is why I want to make a difference in the health-care field. I want to be the person to make patients smile each time they arrive and leave the dental office.”
Farmingdale State College has been cited many times for its outstanding dental hygiene program, which is what attracted Smith to FSC — all the way from San Diego. She enrolled in her sophomore year, after the first college she attended — Mount Ida College, just outside Boston — unexpectedly closed its doors. From her research, Smith knew the best dental hygiene programs were on the east coast, so FSC became her next college of choice. A successful women’s softball program was an added incentive.
“I figured I may as well apply and see if I’d get accepted, and I did. I knew I would get a fantastic education with top-of-the-line professors and clinic coordinators.”
Smith’s first year at FSC was a success, with two appearances on the Dean’s List. She also played All-Star—caliber softball, being named Pitcher of the Year and Most Outstanding Player in the Skyline Conference tournament. But being 3,000 miles from home, at her second school in two years, and involved in sports didn’t distract Smith a bit.
“No secret. I commit to my studies,” she says. “My parents have always said school comes first and I have continued to live by that, which also means school over softball. My degree is incredibly important to me, and I want to put all the effort I can into obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. My friends say I live at my desk, because whenever they walk in, I can almost guarantee you I am sitting there studying or working on homework.
“Time management is key to balancing school and softball. It is doable, but by no means is it easy. I am either at my desk studying, in class, or at softball practice. While Dental Hygiene is a very demanding program, softball has been a great outlet for me. It allows me to escape from reality and the stress that comes along with my studies.”
That’s saying a mouthful.