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Long-Time Hygienist Graduates U Of M Dental School At 60

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Spring time is graduation time, when young people look forward to what's next.

But there was a commencement at the University of Minnesota Friday morning that featured one graduate who is 60 years old.

Kathleen Mattison worked as a dental hygienist for decades, but she is now Dr. Kathleen Mattison, DDS.

The U of M School of Dentistry commencement is usually a pretty conservative affair.

But when Mattison's name was announced, the ovation was loud and long.

"I was absolutely amazed, overwhelmed by that," she said. "It was 40 years ago, this time of year, in this same building, that I walked across the stage and got a degree as a hygienist."

Mattison worked as a hygienist for 35 years with the same dentist, Dr. Robert Hobday. He saw her get her diploma.

"I've been telling her she needed to go to dental school for probably at least 25 years," Hobday said. "She would always take a great interest in the patients and she was always interested in the diagnosis."

Mattison's husband and three daughters are very proud of her accomplishment.

"When she graduated they were hollering, 'Dr. Mom!'" her husband, Phil, said.

Phil Mattison said Kathleen had one advantage over most dental students.

"We had equity in our house, so we refinanced our house to put my wife through college," he said.

"You can think about it forever," Kathleen Mattison said. "Just starting is the hardest part."

Mattison said she will begin her new career as a dentist in Cook, Minnesota.

She said there's a greater need for dentists in smaller communities.


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