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Colston captures Lorna J. Bruning Award for Outstanding Teaching

Kathy Colston, RDH, BSDH
Kathy Colston, RDH, BSDH

Kathy Colston, RDH, BSDH, is UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry's 2020 recipient of the Lorna J. Bruning Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Chosen by second-year hygiene students, the Bruning Award winner is recognized as a faculty member who demonstrates exceptional knowledge and competence towards effective learning.

Referred to as a “gem at what she does,” Colston, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Dental Hygiene, was noted in several student nominations for her compassion when working with both students and patients.

One student wrote, “She has so much knowledge to share, and all of my patients love her for that. Her enthusiasm allows me to feel positive and comfortable despite how stressful the environment or situation can be during clinic.”

Another nominator added, “She continues to use her experience and knowledge to educate us, and has encouraged and taught me many things I plan to take with me into my professional career.”

Colston said being selected by her students for the Bruning Award "blew her away."

“I’m very honored they thought to recognize the effort I put into teaching in clinic,” she said. “As much as I appreciated the award, I think it means more to me to know I made an impact on them.”

Colston admits she can be hard on her students at times, such as asking them to redo a procedure, but she tries to make her teaching practical.

“Everything I teach them, I tell them why you have to do it like ‘this,’ not because I necessarily want it that way, but it’s the way it will need to be done when working for a dentist,” Colston said. “More importantly, the patients will want it done that way — from the gentleness of their hand to the communication of patient education.”

A practicing dental hygienist for over 40 years, Colston speaks from experience, but she credits joining UTSD’s faculty in 2017 for her biggest growth as a teacher.

“Teaching at UTSD has given me the ability to expand and grow,” she said. “I have such wonderful colleagues and peers, and love every day with my students.”

The Bruning Award comes with a cash prize. Previous winners include:

  • Amber Lovatos, RDH, BSDH, 2019;
  • Tulsi Patel, BSDH, MHA, 2018;
  • Deborah Vayon, RDH, MEd, 2017;
  • Ruth Conn, RDH, MSDH, 2016;
  • Darla McKitrick, RDH, MS, 2015;
  • Donna Warren Morris, RDH, MEd, 2014;
  • Harold Henson, RDH, MEd, 2013, 2008;
  • Joanna Allaire, RDH, MDH, 2012, 2010;
  • Nina Bay Infante, RDH, MS, 2011;
  • Holly Rice, RDH, MEd, 2009;
  • Ann O’Kelly Wetmore, RDH, MSDH, 2007;
  • Jayne McWherter, RDH, MEd, 2006;
  • Amy Murphy, RDH, BS, 2005.
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