Hygienist-Turned-Dentist and Student Star in Radio Spots

dr christine tierney and student bridget oei
Dr. Christine Tierney ’86 (DMD) and Sophomore Bridget Oei

A dental hygienist who took her patients’ advice to become a dentist and a brilliant UConn sophomore who has already invented a heart monitor battery charger will star in new radio spots on NPR to promote the UConn Foundation’s scholarship drive.

In her 60-second spot, Greenwich dentist Dr. Christine Tierney explains that she wants to help students who are the first in their family to get a professional degree. Environmental science major Bridget Oei talks about how her scholarship not only gave her financial aid, but the motivation to push herself.

The UConn Foundation has raised more than $56.5 million for scholarships and fellowships for UConn students since the Transform Lives scholarship initiative launched last year.

Tierney ’86 (DMD) grew up in a large family where the most advanced degree was an associate’s in dairy science. Tierney was earning her associate’s herself in dental hygiene and working after school as a dental assistant when her patients urged her to become a dentist. She had never really considered getting a professional degree, but decided to apply and got in to the UConn School of Dental Medicine.

Tierney, who has a successful dental practice in Greenwich, recently created a fellowship to help students who were the first in their families to attend professional school.

“It’s something I’m really proud of,” she said. “I really do think we have an obligation to give back, and UConn makes it easy to do and makes you feel really good about it.”

[Listen to Tierney’s NPR Segment]

In her NPR spot, Oei, a sophomore from Hebron, explains that scholarships have helped her to take charge of her academic path and motivated her to push herself.

Oei, who is on the pre-med track, has already done some innovative research at UConn. She has invented a paper-thin device that can charge the batteries in a heart monitor by using the wind from a person’s breathing. She won the Robert and Carlotta Holster Honors Scholarship and Stamps Scholarship, among others.

“The scholarships mean more than money. They’re not just subsidizing my education,” she said. “Meeting donors, you realize that there are people out there who actually believe in you personally and they’re willing to support you because of what they believe what you can do. That’s inspiring and extremely motivational for me and for so many other students who have received scholarships.”

Oei, who intends to become a dermatologist, is also a competitive Irish dancer, ballet dancer, violinist, and fiddler.

[Listen to Oei’s NPR Segment]