Students at Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), a public career technical education district, volunteered at the 8th annual Arizona Mission of Mercy. The organization provides free dental care to those in need, and last year raised almost $2 million in free dental care.
West-MEC has a Northwest campus at 13201 W. Grand Ave., Surprise, and Southwest campus at 5487 N. 99th Ave., Glendale.
More than 100 students from West-MEC’s Northwest and Southwest campuses went to the Arizona State Fairgrounds to transform the Veterans Memorial Coliseum into a dental clinic. The clinic provides a range of free services, including extractions, fillings, and cleanings. All the dental care is provided by volunteer dentists and hygienists, along with donations to cover equipment and supplies.
“Our students sped up the setup process by a great deal. I’ve volunteered for AZMOM (Arizona Mission of Mercy) for eight years, and this is the first time we weren’t still setting up late into the night,” dental assisting instructor at the Southwest Campus Julie Ehrman stated.
Senior students in the dental assisting program provided care to patients, helping pass tools, polish teeth and sterilize equipment. Throughout the event, students networked with dental professionals and experienced different dental issues normally unseen until further into their education.
“Participating in this type of community event allowed them to think outside of themselves and about how their skills could help others that don’t have access to the dental care they need,” Northwest Campus career services coach America Segura stated. “I think these types of events not only help them with professional skills but more importantly, it helps them to develop compassion for others and grows their desire to help others more often.”
West-MEC focuses solely on career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue continuing education. West-MEC CTE programs provide students opportunities to earn college credit and industry credentials.
West-MEC serves more than 38,000 students from 48 high schools, across 3,600 square miles in the northern and western cities of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. West-MEC now also offers adult education programs.