UNK experiences prepare Maritza Calmo Martin for an impactful career

UNK experiences prepare Maritza Calmo Martin for an impactful career
Maritza Calmo Martin is a senior at UNK, where she’s studying business administration with a health science minor. She’s part of the pre-dental hygiene program. (Photo by Erika Pritchard, UNK Communications)
April 3rd, 2024 | Tyler Ellyson

KEARNEY – Maritza Calmo Martin was 15 years old when she got braces.

The process amazed her.

“I was just in awe whenever I would go to the office for appointments,” she said.

Calmo Martin saw firsthand the benefits of dental care and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives. That piqued her interest in the professional field.

As a senior at Lexington High School, she went one step further by job shadowing at a local dental office. She learned that pulling teeth definitely isn’t her thing, but there are other ways that she could assist patients.

“The way the dental hygienist interacted with patients really stuck with me,” Calmo Martin said. “She was so friendly and she had a great relationship with them.”

“I want to be able to help people in this way,” she added. “I know there’s a need for dental hygienists in rural areas, so hopefully I can do my part to help.”

Calmo Martin is currently a senior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she’s studying business administration with a health science minor. She serves as president of the Health Science Club and created the organization’s Dental Committee during her sophomore year.

UNK senior Maritza Calmo Martin teaches Glenwood Elementary School kindergartners about oral health during a recent outreach event. Calmo Martin organizes these educational activities for local preschools and elementary schools. (UNK Health Sciences)

Recognizing a disparity in dental care and a lack of education in this area for some families, Calmo Martin decided to address these issues by launching a program for local kids. She and other Health Science Club members – most in the pre-dental hygiene and pre-dentistry programs – visit Kearney preschools and elementary schools throughout the academic year to teach students about oral care.

They talk about healthy food and drink choices, demonstrate proper brushing techniques and help the young students understand that a visit to the dentist’s office shouldn’t be scary. At the end of each event, the students receive a take-home bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, stickers and coloring book, along with a letter for parents in both English and Spanish offering helpful tips and explaining the importance of proper oral health.

Calmo Martin’s favorite part is interacting with the students and seeing their smiling faces.

“Yes, we’re there to talk about dental care and why it’s important to keep your teeth clean, but the environment is so fun and engaging,” she said. “The students are always open and excited to see you, and that gives me a sense of happiness.”

Stefani Wegner, assistant director of UNK Health Sciences and adviser for the Health Science Club, said these educational activities have been “incredibly well-received” by both teachers and families. That’s a credit to Calmo Martin, who organizes nearly every aspect.

The Health Science Club provides additional community service opportunities for members, as well as events that allow them to network with professionals and learn more about health care careers.

“Maritza’s passion shines through as president of our Health Science Club, where she truly goes the extra mile to ensure that the club is organized, that everyone has the opportunity to participate, and that these are meaningful experiences,” Wegner said. “She is a warm, kind, wonderful human who is very driven to use her time and talents to improve the lives of others.”

A first-generation college student, Calmo Martin received the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Scholarship awarded to Nebraska students with a financial need and was part of the Thompson Scholars Learning Community (TSLC), a program that provides academic and social support during the transition to college.

She served as a TSLC mentor during her sophomore year, kick-starting her involvement on campus.

“When I was in high school, I was really shy. I didn’t talk to anyone and I was really quiet,” Calmo Martin explained. “I feel like when I became a mentor I was able to grow as an individual. The living-learning community really helped me become who I am today.”

Calmo Martin has also been part of the Future Business Leaders of America Collegiate chapter at UNK and the Beta Alpha Psi honors organization for accounting and finance students. She participated in study abroad programs in Italy in summer 2022 and Costa Rica in summer 2023 through the Department of Modern Languages.

“Being here at UNK, I’ve gotten to experience a lot of things that I never would have imagined doing when I was in high school,” said Calmo Martin, who’s currently interning with KSO CPAs + Advisors in Kearney.

She’ll graduate from UNK in May, with plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration before enrolling in a dental hygiene program. Ultimately, she wants to work in central Nebraska in a role that combines her health care training and business background.

“No matter the setting or pathway Maritza chooses, I think her future patients and co-workers will see that she genuinely cares for them and they will appreciate her kindness,” Wegner said. “She is also organized, hardworking, creative and forward-thinking, which will be an asset to any organization where she is involved.”


© 2024 Nebraska Rural Radio Association. All rights reserved. Republishing, rebroadcasting, rewriting, redistributing prohibited. Copyright Information