Pete Hehil, DDS ’88

As the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged the United States and shut down Minnesota, students at the School of Dentistry were left with impossible choices.

Candidates for graduation scrambled to find last-minute housing and extend their stays in Minneapolis as some faced a lengthened program. Students who didn’t own computers had to figure out a way to attend their courses virtually. “So much was unknown,” recalled Emily Best, acting director of development.

Give Kids a Smile

A winter tradition at the School of Dentistry, Give Kids a Smile brings student and faculty volunteers together to provide free oral health care to children in need throughout the community. The February event not only gives children much-needed treatment, but also connects families to a home for regular oral health care.

But, like so many other things, the pandemic forced a change of plans. Thankfully, however, the Give Kids a Smile organizers have been planning for this possibility since last fall.

Michael Brooks, DDS

It’s hard to imagine anyone further removed from his childhood than Michael A. Brooks, Jr., DDS ‘13.

2020 Admissions

After the initial shock of shutdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as students adjusted to their new way of learning and communities rallied to safely support one another, the School of Dentistry’s admissions team faced a massive challenge: 

How do we complete over 200 student interviews? 

With hard work and flexibility, the Office of Admissions and Diversity put together a seamless interview process--which may have contributed to the over 40% increase in dental school applications from the previous year. 

Andrew Glover

Motivation for University of Minnesota School of Dentistry student Andrew Glover hasn’t been a problem throughout his life.

The 30-year-old DDS student from Inver Grove Heights was accepted into the Air Force Academy in 2008, managed a group of more than 100 airman as a 2nd Lieutenant at 23, became an acquisitions officer and managed weapons systems for B-2 bombers. But when it comes to what led him to dental school, his motivation came from a very different place. Namely, from failure.

Give Kids a Smile

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Dentistry will not host an in-person event for Give Kids a Smile on February 6, 2021. Give Kids a Smile is a student-led, volunteer event connecting underserved children and families with oral health care.  While disappointing, the Give Kids a Smile Committee will keep its amazing network of supporters up-to-date on the alternate ways Give Kids a Smile will positively impact our community and how you can stay involved.

What will the 2021 edition of Give Kids a Smile look like?

Jackie Callaway-Campbell

Sometimes all it takes are a few encouraging words to alter the trajectory of a young person’s life. For Jackie Callaway-Campbell, it was the words of a manager where she worked as a dental assistant in New Castle, Del.

Uriel Vasquez Rios

Uriel Vasquez Rios is proud of his non-traditional path to dental school. Now entering his second year of the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, he says several unexpected detours helped him to grow and to learn to navigate through challenges.  

“Things did not always turn out as I had planned, and I needed to learn to be tenacious” said Vasquez Rios, 28, who was just elected president of his class for the second consecutive year. “I learned to just focus on the specific challenge in front of me and not get caught up in the lofty goal of becoming a dentist.”

Yazan Alkhatib

Fourth-year class president Yazan Alkhatib graduates from the Doctor of Dental Surgery program this spring. He was asked to share his experiences over the last two months.

Q: How are you adapting to the new pandemic normal?

Allie Deneen

Allie Deneen believes she has been destined for a career in dentistry since fourth grade when she wrote ‘tooth doctor’ in answer to a question about her future. Her mother held onto that school project. Today, Deneen says her fourth-grade fascination with teeth is what drove her to initially look into careers in dentistry. But it is the impact dental hygiene can have on people that has held her interest.

Deneen will graduate in August with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.