The School of Dentistry bestowed Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees on 63 students, its largest graduating class in a generation, at the School’s 63rd annual commencement exercises on June 2.
The numbers at the Hooding ceremony at the UW’s Meany Hall were swelled by the first graduating cohort of seven students from the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program, in which began in 2007. RIDE students spend their first year in Spokane studying alongside medical and dental hygiene students, return to Seattle for their second and third years, and then spend part of fourth year in extended community clinical rotations in Eastern Washington.
Dr. Robert H. Johnson of the Department of Periodontics, the keynote speaker, told students, “The profession is not just about cleaning and restoring teeth – it’s about treating patients.” In a talk heavily laced with humor, he reflected back on experiences such as treating his mother as a dental student and hearing her tell him, “You should have gone into medicine.” He also imparted several serious admonitions:
- “You can’t rest on today’s laurels. Don’t let yourself get old and stale like a crust of bread.”
- “Protect the profession. Love it, respect it, nurture it. …Will you have failures and mistakes? Of course you will. How you respond to those failures and mistakes will define you as a professional.”
- “Don’t take yourself too seriously; no one else does. … I’m convinced that without laughter, there can be no love.”
Dr. Johnson, who is retiring from the School, stressed the need for dentists to find balance in their lives, urging students to take time to get away from the minute details of the operatory and appreciate life and nature. He told them to always be aware of patients’ dental anxiety and the emotional trauma of treatment, and to remember the importance of resiliency: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
Dr. Tim DeRouen, Interim Dean, welcomed guests to the exercises and noted that the graduating students had experienced profound changes during their four years in the School – an experience that will stand them in good stead as they leave.
“You’re entering a profession that allows you to serve other people, improve the quality of their lives, and at the same time shape your own destiny,” he added. “Not that many people are so privileged, and I hope you don’t lose sight of your debt to our society for giving you that opportunity.”
Class of 2012 President Russell Johnson, who also spoke, enjoyed a special family moment during the ceremonies. His mother, Diane Daubert of the Department of Periodontics faculty, who was at times his classmate while she earned her master’s degree, assisted in presenting him his doctoral hood.
In separate ceremonies held by individual departments, the School also presented advanced degrees to dental graduate students.