Fall 2012

Living the Dream

As co-chair of the Dental M Club, Mary Jane Hanlon, D97, champions a Tufts dental education

The first woman to co-chair the Dental M Club, Mary Jane Hanlon, D97, always knew she wanted to be a dentist. When she was 14, she started working parttime at a dentist’s office and continued to do so throughout high school. “I was hooked,” she says.

“Senior year I went to my guidance counselor to see about college options. He asked me, ‘Don’t you think you should become a dental hygienist?’ ” It was 1970, a time when women weren’t often steered toward careers as doctors or dentists.

But Hanlon was determined, even though her path to dental school was a circuitous one. She did indeed become a dental hygienist. She married and started a family.

Mary Jane Hanlon. Photo: Kelvin Ma

Mary Jane Hanlon. Photo: Kelvin Ma

And then, on the day that her daughter, Courtney, started kindergarten, Hanlon stepped through the doors of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine for her first class. It wasn’t easy—balancing the roles of mother, wife and student—but she made it work. And best of all, she says, was the example she set for her daughter. “I never had to tell Courtney to study because she saw me doing it while she grew up. She even helped me study for my M.B.A. while she was in college.”

Now Hanlon is ready to rally her fellow alumni to the cause of the dental school that helped her achieve a lifelong dream. “Tufts has given me more than anything I’ve ever expected,” she says. “Like so many of my fellow graduates, I feel very fortunate to have finally made it, and to have a career I love every day.”

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