Roberta Flynn recipient of 2019 Kristen Donovan Award

When Roberta Flynn, dental assistant in the department of Periodontology, was announced as the winner of the 2019 Kristen Donovan Award during the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) Faculty and Staff meeting on Thursday, June 13, 2019, she was greeted with a standing ovation—one that made her cry.

Her first steps, however, were not onto to the stage to receive the award. They were to Bob and June Donovan, Kristen’s parents, who were sitting in the first row.

“I know this family lost someone who was very precious to them,” Flynn said. “And I hope that…I was exactly the person they were looking for to receive the award—someone who did emulate their daughter…and for me, it was an honor, and a pleasure. And that’s why my first step was to go over and thank them first.”

Flynn joined the GSDM community in May 2015 as a dental assistant in the Department of Periodontology, and as Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter said, “she has excelled in every respect.”

The dean continued, “I am sure I speak for the entire School when I say how lucky we are to have Roberta on our team, and I am thankful for all the hard work she puts in every day.”

The Kristen Donovan award is presented annually to a member of the staff who has been employed by the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine for less than five years, and who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the school and improved its community by working to fulfill the school’s mission. It was established in memory of Senior Patient Coordinator Kristen Donovan, who passed away in 2012.

As a dental assistant in the department of periodontology, Flynn is responsible for a variety of tasks, ranging from refilling water bottles and wiping down chairs to providing chairside support to residents and patients during procedures.

“She is always looking out for the residents…she takes time to listen to their needs,” wrote one nominator.

Flynn is also popular amongst patients in the Periodontology department. “I had one the other day give me a hug and say, ‘I’m so glad you were the one that assisted,” she said.

“When patients are coming in and saying, ‘Hi Roberta!,’ and they’re smiling, then I know that I’ve done well by them,” she said.

Patricia Dirksmeier, clinical assistant supervisor in the Department of Periodontology, said that Flynn is a dedicated employee.

“She always goes over and above for the residents and for patients,” she said. “She’s always someone I can count on, to do something—to take on an extra task, or stay late, or adjust her schedule.”

“This award is meant for people like her, that really stand out and really shine amongst the rest,” she added. “It’s nice to see that she’s [being] recognized for her positive attitude, her strong work ethic, and the fact that [she] treats everyone the same.”

Flynn said she was excited to be chosen as this year’s recipient—and it motivated her to continue to go above and beyond.

“I felt this real big burst of energy,” Flynn said. “People see what I do and know what I do and really appreciate what I do— for me, I don’t do it for that. I do it for the good of everybody around me.”