Anne Guignon, RDH, MPH, CSP - March 14, 2022
Women Who Have Inspired Me
Hundreds of women taught me to be brave, but four shaped me in their own unique ways. None were in health care, but each supported my goal to serve people, and each knew that education was the key. What I learned from my Mom and my Grandmothers, supported my passion to become a health care provider. These women taught me that physical, emotional, and spiritual health were critical for a meaningful life. My Mom, my maternal Grandmother, and my graduate school thesis advisor, each lived to see my passion unfold.
From birth I was destined to be an independent thinker, who simply did not understand nor agree with the idea that women had “a place”. As a child, I sat around the dining room table and saw my parents treat each other as equals – equal participants in parenting a large family on a very small income. I saw my aunts, grandmothers, and great aunts go to college, run successful businesses, take care of family affairs, and fully participate in an even wider political and social arena.
These experiences impressed certain things on me: women were equal, women were smart, and women were totally capable of making outstanding contributions to not only their immediate family and social circles, but women could have impacts way beyond what society said was the norm at that time. I saw my stay-at-home Mom remain intellectually curious, while staying fully engaged with raising seven children. I saw my grandmother start college at age 54, graduate with a BA at age 68 and an MFA at 93. I saw my widowed Mom move to Paris, France at age 70 and maintain an apartment in the city of lights until age 90.
My graduate school thesis advisor influenced me in a profoundly different way. She entered my life during a particularly challenging period. I was full of self-doubt and wondering how I could move past the chaos at the time. She championed my academic vision and created a safe haven where I could channel my energies in a positive way. Even after retirement, she continued to support my research endeavors.
Over the past five decades countless women have come into my life and supported my dreams to serve people as a health care provider and an educator. There are many men who have also played incredibly supportive roles in my journey, and I am grateful for their contributions to my professional growth.
It was never my intention to have anyone outside of my family know my name, but my destiny was sealed by genetics and family values. As a woman in dentistry, my passion for education and compassion has touched thousands in a positive way. Nothing is more share exciting than sharing information with my professional colleagues. What an honor to be able to make a difference.