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Woman of Distinction
(L-R) Shelly Bridge (sister), Frank Bridge (father), recipient Dr. Karen Ann Bridge, Margaret Bridge (mother) and husband Ed Seguin
"I had a vision," were the words spoken by the recently recognized 2016 Woman of Distinction, Dr. Karen Ann Bridge.
Bridge was officially recognized at the International Women's event held on March 8th at the Lakeshore Recreation Centre in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) .
Karen Ann Bridge and husband, Ed Seguin
Bridge's dream and a vision that started more than a decade ago was to become a dentist.
In her 40s, Bridge returned to high school in Port Elgin at Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS), where she had been a high school student as a teen, to complete her Ontario Academic requirements needed to enter university.
She subsequently earned an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in 2011 and a Masters in Physiology and then moved on to the Schulich Dental Clinician-Scientist (DCS) program, which she completed last year (2015). Following her dream, Bridge graduated last May (2015) from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) at the age of 52.
Going to school with students half her age, did not daunt the woman with a vision. She was awarded the prestigious Dr. John C. McLister Service Award for her commitment, leadership and service to fellow students, faculty and staff at the University.
During this time, Bridge also worked part-time, helped out in free dental clinics (Dental OutReach Community Services) in London and area and then took a leave to attend to a family medical challenge.
She became involved with the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) while a student and then going on to become a full member.
Before all this, Bridge was a single mother, who not only worked full time as a Dental Hygienist locally for many years and was the Clinical Instructor at the UWO, but was active in her community, was a traditional hockey mom taking her son to arenas and taught part-time as a Fitness Instructor in local health clubs.
Karen Ann Bridge with mother, Margaret, about to embark on a game of Trivia
"I could not have done this without the support of my husband and family," says Bridge. "They encouraged me every step of the way."
Today, Bridge lives in Port Elgin and works as a Dentist at Lakeview Dental Services in Kincardine.
When asked about the Women's House, she replied that it is huge. "I've been away at school for 10 years so I've been in my own little world of school and study. My sister-in-law helped with the design and building of the Women's House and I thought ... why in Bruce County? We don't need one of those ... but we do. The number of calls they get and the number of women they help is astronomical and I didn't realize it. I had a wake-up call that I needed to get involved."
"My new vision," says Bridge, "is to set up a
network of dentists working with Women's Houses to provide victims of domestic abuse with the dental care they deserve, to assist victims retain oral health to build self-esteem and confidence."
Bridge is also working to get a research project started with victims in Women's House to discover if spouses have held back care and money. "If we get a study done, we will have scientific evidence. Everything in dentistry is science based so if I do the study, perhaps we can get that evidence and then funding to help these women."
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Wednesday, March 09, 2016