Career takes her from treating to teaching to Dean’s Office
After a 16-year career as a dental hygienist, she decided to become a dentist. It wasn’t an easy path, entering dental school while in her mid-30s, but she persevered. She went on to become a department chair, then a highly regarded dean. This month, she will receive the UMKC School of Dentistry’s Alumni Achievement Award.
She initially enrolled at the University of Maryland dental college. She transferred to UMKC when her husband, Dr. Richard Drisko (D.D.S. ‘56), accepted a position at Kansas City’s VA Medical Center.
“UMKC gave me a chance to become a dentist. I was an older student when I entered, but UMKC believed that practitioners should look like the world outside – all backgrounds, all ages and economic status,” Drisko said. “They wanted the best, most ethical and professional students available. I graduated when I was 40, and embarked on a successful 33-year career in academics. And I’m still going strong.”
She completed her DDS degree and joined the UMKC dental faculty as an associate professor, teaching in various departments for 10 years. The quality of her work there was reflected in the teaching awards and research grants she received, as well as her community service.
Her next post was as dean of the College of Dental Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University, now Georgia Regents University, where Drisko was only the third person to occupy that position. During her tenure, student enrollment grew significantly and greater student diversity became an enrollment goal. In recent years the American Dental Association commended her school’s dedication to educating minority and low income students for careers in dentistry.
Drisko also led the effort to raise funds at Georgia Regents for a new, up-to-date dental school building, discovering in herself a talent for campaign development and generating financial support along the way.
“People in our profession sometimes need to be reminded of the privileged place they hold in healthcare,” Drisko said. “I ask alumni to consider how much of their current success is due to the education they have. Also, I try to find an opportunity that appeals to particular alums, something that gets them excited.”