Firsts by Erinne Kennedy, Nova Southeastern ’15, 2014-2015 ASDA Contributing Editor


Left Erinne Kennedy ’15 NOVA Southeastern; Right: Dr. Phyllis Filker, DMD, MPH

Have you ever been the first to do something? The first to get your license in high school? The first in your family to graduate college? Or the first to win state or nationals representing a sports team? Being first seems easy when you see these icons in their glory.  The part society sees is the grand moment when a person becomes first. The moment the days, hours, minutes of sweat and tears culminate. Who was there all along the way, through the triumphs and defeats? The mom of the person who became first. Women are the innovators of today’s day and age; they exemplify someone who lays down their life for someone else. They, like Lucy Hobbs, are selfless.

As a female student dentist at NOVA Southeastern University I can’t imagine the roadblocks faced by Lucy Hobbs. But I can imagine that she didn’t see them as roadblocks but rather opportunities to improve and challenges she could overcome. She was the first female dentist who laid ground so that women can pursue their dreams. I am where I am because of her.

Her life story hits home because I was born in Galliapolis, a small town in Southern Ohio. Later on I moved to Columbus, and attended college at The Ohio State University. My mother always taught me- half the battle is perseverance. Show up every day and at the end you will make it through. Perseverance applies to college, dental school, work life, home life, raising children and more. Women persevere. And of course, Lucy Hobbs exemplifies perseverance. Every day I wake up and hope that I make a small difference in the world of dentistry; even 1:1,000 of the difference she made. As a dental student, I see women balance work, school, families, studying, leadership roles and even pregnancy which they seem to do with the greatest of ease. In a way, all women are superheroes.
The superheroes that have influenced my academic career: Dr. Everyn Kilinc, Theresa Kennedy (my mother), Dr. Phyllis Filker, and Dean Linda Neissen. These women step up to the plate day in and day out regardless of the hurdles thrown at them. I am proud to say that I am a part of a dental class that is more than 50% superheroes. You can see the value of having a mentor who is one of these superheroes in a recent ASDA Publication (

This project “empowers women in dentistry to drive change and deliver success through networking, innovation and giving back.” At NOVA Southeastern University, we have an amazing group of students who embody networking, innovation and giving back.  Htet Bo is the leader of women’s dental along with Dr. Sharon Siegel, where they encourage mentorship with other women. DeVaria Hudson represents student services that has helped launch a tutor program that provides guidance and help to students in need. We have women leading Give Kids a Smile (Kelly Cundy and Karen Castellucci) to provide thousands of children with needed dental care. At LECOM, Jenna Weldom Pascoli ( has started an ASDA from the ground up and has lead dental students to believe in organized dentistry.

Left to right: Erinne Kennedy, Diana Kinyua, and Htet Bo

I was recently elected class president for the class of 2015. I feel as though it is something like a “Lucy Hobbs Challenge”. It is my first time being a class president. The responsibilities of such leadership are immense. But, the beauty of dental school is that we have 4 intense years together where we are branded as a family, flock and pod. The beauty of The Lucy Hobbs Project is that it brings to light the dedication women have made to this wonderful field. I hope that I can listen to issues. I hope that I can collaborate with classmates. I hope that I can trail blaze for the Class of 2015 at NOVA Southeastern University. Lastly, I hope that you all can see the amazing work women are doing not only at NOVA Southeastern University but rather all over the world. Go out today and thank your mother. Thank her for helping you be who you are today. Thank her for her dedication, love and guidance. And thank the leaders who have been first, and paved the way for your dreams.
Happy Mother’s Day!

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