Class of 2012 urged to be mindful of its responsibilities to the underserved
“Whatever you do, do it with real emotional energy and vitality and passion,” Dean Huw F. Thomas urged the members of the class of 2012, in his first commencement address since arriving at Tufts Dental School in summer 2011. Let those you treat know that dentistry is about “feelings, not just fillings,” he added.
The May 20 ceremony was indeed one of deep feeling, as graduates poured out their heartfelt gratitude to their mentors, teachers, dental school staff, their friends and classmates, and with special appreciation, their families.
“I especially want to thank the families—the wives, husbands, kids, parents—who were always there,” said Jhon Giraldo, president of the international student class. “Some of them are here with us today, and some of them are still far away,” but they all helped us realize our dream of earning a dental degree.
Thomas commended the 179 students who earned their D.M.D. degrees, including 13 graduates of the International Student Program, two in the Faculty Track International Student Program and 20 students who earned the M.S., for their commitment to excellence and their devotion to the underserved. He reminded them more than once of the importance of supporting access to care for all segments of society.
Echoing that theme, Robert Kasberg, associate dean for admissions and student affairs, lauded the class for its record of service to the school, in the local community and throughout the world. He urged the students to commit themselves to two values.
“Be generous,” he urged, not just by giving money to worthwhile causes, but “more importantly, be generous with your time, to your families and to those you love.” And “be respectful of your intellectual potential,” he added. “You are among the most capable of advancing and sharing knowledge.”
But it was D12 class president Inga Keithly who captured the emotion of the day with a moving expression of personal gratitude to two of her friends and professional mentors, Elizabeth Greenberg Rooney and Rebecca Paglia, both D00, and a tribute to classmate Catherine Dahl. For its class gift, the D12s established a scholarship in honor of Dahl, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and went on to become a leader, mentor and friend to many in the class. Dahl was greeted with a standing ovation as she came on stage to receive her diploma and lavender doctoral hood.
Nancy Arbree, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of prosthodontics and operative dentistry, received emerita status upon her retirement.
This year’s teaching awards were announced in the Commencement program and formally presented at the Faculty Recognition Luncheon on July 31. The honorees were James Hanley, D75A, DG79, associate dean for clinical affairs and associate professor of periodontology, Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service; Hamasat Gheddaf Dam, assistant professor of prosthodontics and operative dentistry, Dean’s Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching; and Kanchan Ganda, professor of public health and community service, Dean’s Award for Excellence in Preclinical Teaching. Peter Brodeur, associate professor of pathology, and Paul Leavis, associate professor of physiology, received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching.
The Tufts Dental Alumni Association presented the Academic Excellence Award in honor of Christine Benoit, D77, to Shin Huh. Benoit, who practices in Charlestown, R.I., was honored for her 35 years of service to the alumni association and public service activities, including Dentistry from the Heart, which provides free dental care to those who need it.
Graduates of the school’s postgraduate certificate and fellowship programs were honored at a separate ceremony, on June 9 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston. Fifty-four students received their certificates.