Pedro Lopez Vega’s life seems to have followed a path that feels inevitable. Life has not been easy for the Dental Therapy class of 2024 student, but everything he has experienced has brought him to where he is today—and shaped his vision for the future.
The School of Dentistry’s second-year learners experienced a rite of passage into the profession last week, after a pandemic-induced delay.
The DDS Class of 2024, Dental Therapy class of 2023 and Dental Hygiene class of 2022 celebrated their White Coat Ceremony on Friday, September 24. Typically celebrated at the beginning of a cohort’s education, this ceremony was postponed last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The School chose to hold the ceremony at a later date in order to recognize students in person and maintain the ritual and symbolism of the ceremony.
The School of Dentistry celebrated 105 DDS learners, 21 Dental Hygiene learners and 7 Dental Therapy learners at their White Coat Ceremony last week, marking their official entrance into the dental profession.
First celebrated in 1989 at the University of Chicago, the White Coat Ceremony marks the moment in which each clinical learner is bestowed with their first white coat, recognizing the professionalism and patient-centered care expected of the wearer.
Last week, 133 new students made their debut on the University of Minnesota’s campus to attend orientation for their respective programs. The incoming class of 2021 consists of 105 DDS, 21 Dental Hygiene, and seven Dental Therapy students who participated in a hybrid orientation program.
The students began their first day on campus, at the Health Sciences Education Center, where they received a warm welcome from Dean Keith A. Mays, DDS, MS, PhD.
On Thursday, July 22, the Dental Hygiene class of 2021 gathered for a senior banquet to recognize and celebrate the graduates and to present fifteen awards. These awards honored students for their academic achievement, community involvement, leadership skills, and more.
Phonsuda Chanthavisouk, MDT ’21, graduated this spring, and she’s ready to make an impact in the world as a dental therapist. She got there with help from a Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation scholarship.
“The scholarship allowed me to be more focused and put intention and energy into my studies,” she reflected. “The work I produce as a clinician and a student is better because my financial burden of student loans was reduced.”
The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry celebrated its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 last Friday in Northrop Auditorium.
“The 2021 School of Dentistry Commencement Ceremony will always be marked as a return to more normal activities after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Interim Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, reflected in a letter to the graduates. “This graduation is a celebration of all of your academic accomplishments, and more specifically those achieved here at the School of Dentistry.”
Throughout my years as a dental educator, I have had the privilege of interacting with student leaders. Many of these individuals have volunteered in a leadership role, and some have been elected to these positions by their peers. I have seen some serve for their entire time in our program, and have the privilege of witnessing growth, maturation, and development of leadership skills.
Phonsuda Chanthavisouk, MDT ’21, is a student ambassador for dental therapy students at the School of Dentistry. Earlier this week, she showed us what a day in her life looks like as a dental therapy student on our Instagram stories. Take a look at what she shared.
She started out by telling viewers a little bit about how she begins most days.