It's never too late to learn: Dental student gets her degree, and a job, at 60


There won't be many University of Minnesota graduates as popular as Kathleen Mattison.

Forty years after getting her degree in dental hygiene, the Forest Lake resident was back for another graduation – leaving the U as Dr. Kathleen Mattison DDS at the age of 60.

According to the Pioneer Press, Dr. Bob Hobday – Mattison's employer for 37 at a practice in St. Paul – would tell her regularly that she needed to "do more than she was doing," noting her keen interest in dentistry beyond hygiene.

It took the death of her mother in 2004 to inspire her to a leap, spending a challenging five years retaking several classes as hers were out-of-date, before applying to the U's respected School of Dentistry – getting accepted at the second time of asking in 2011.

The newspaper notes she convinced her husband to mortgage their home to pay for it – and now she's graduated she plans to bring quality dental care to the most in-need communities on her Harley Davidson.

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WCCO reports that her classmates gave her a standing ovation when the mother-of-three's name was called at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis Friday.

"I was absolutely amazed, overwhelmed by that, didn't expect it at all," she told the TV station, while her husband Phil said: "When she graduated they were hollering, ‘Dr. Mom!'”

WCCO notes that Dr. Mattison has accepted a position working in Cook, Minnesota, and said that it is smaller communities like this that are most in need of dental expertise.

Minnesota already has a "loan forgiveness" program to help pay back the college debts of students working in areas of great need in the state, such is the problem of recruiting dentists in rural areas.

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