For Diane Piper Hilton, D.M.D., “having it all” is a matter of balance and perspective. Piper Hilton manages to find a balance in her busy life which includes caring for her husband and two daughters, owning a dental practice, community involvement, supporting the UF College of Dentistry and cheering for Gator football. You might think she “has it all,” but Dr. Diane, as she’s known to her patients and colleagues, says she’s still getting there.
Diane Piper-Hilton, D.M.D., was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., and received her bachelor’s in microbiology and cell science and a minor in chemistry from the University of Florida. While working towards a master’s degree at the University of South Florida, she taught marine biology and leadership skills at Largo High School. In 2001, Piper-Hilton decided to return to UF for dental school, earning her doctor of dental medicine degree here in 2005.
“Dental school taught me not only career skills but life lessons,” Piper Hilton said. “It started with my interview with the college’s former dean Dr. Terri Dolan and the Admissions Committee. They asked me, ‘What was the last book you read?’ and I said it was a John Grisham novel. Dr. Dolan mentioned she was currently reading a Grisham novel. After she mentioned the title, I knew the book wasn’t by John Grisham and I suggested this to her in the interview. In hindsight, it might have been a mistake to correct the dean, but Dr. Dolan pulled the book from her desk and found that I was correct. This taught me not to be afraid of speaking up when something seems incorrect.”
Piper-Hilton won many awards and honors as a dental student including the Student Leadership Award in 2005 and the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 2012.
“My time at the UF College of Dentistry allows me to lead the life I have today. I could not be more thankful for the education, friendships, and personal growth that I experienced in my four years at the college. I support the UF College of Dentistry so that the future generations of Gator Dentists can have the same or an even better experience than I had in dental school,” she said.
In 2013, Piper Hilton and her husband, Jeffrey, made a bequest gift to the college with the purpose of fulfilling D.M.D. student life needs.
She said, “We want the gift to fulfill any needs that the students may have…anything from scholarships to renovations. We simply want to have a positive impact on the students at the college.”
Bequest gifts amongst young alumni are uncommon, but not unheard of within the college. Piper Hilton says she knew that she and her husband wanted to do their part to support the college and the future of dentistry, but as a younger graduate, the means are not readily available. They chose a bequest knowing that their goal will be met later in life.
“I believe that everyone can have a positive impact on the next generation of dental professionals by mentoring students and supporting education through annual fund gifts or planned giving. Also, being active in organized and community dentistry creates a stronger voice for issues that will impact the next generation. As a young alumnus, I am still establishing myself and I may not be able to make much of an impact as an individual. But if everyone is involved; we can maintain the standard of excellence within the college, the profession, and the level of care within the state. And we can eventually truly ‘have it all,’ ” she said.