They sat on the stage in the Curtis M. Phillips Center, promising to floss, be honest and take care of their patients. For the 84 graduates of the University of Florida College of Dentistry’s Doctor of Dental Medicine program, May 18 was a milestone, the long-awaited end of four years in dental school.
The new Doctor of Dental Medicine graduates were joined on stage by the College of Dentistry’s faculty, staff and 52 other graduating students who received certificates or graduate degrees in Advanced Dental Education. Parents, friends, spouses, children and extended family members filled the audience, shouting with joy and clapping as each graduate received his or her certificate and orange-and-blue hood, an item given to each D.M.D. graduate.
The two-and-a-half hour ceremony featured speeches from Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.P.H., dean of the UF College of Dentistry; David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and the president of the UF&Shands Health System; Norberto Camacho, D.M.D., the class president; and Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., president of the Florida Dental Association.
Camacho, called “Tico” by friends, spoke briefly about the students’ journey through dental school, joked about experiences they shared and told family members to expect an attack from love bugs when they stepped outside to take pictures.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t have shaky hands during this,” Camacho joked in the beginning of his speech. “But I promise I won’t have shaky hands when I administer anesthesia.”
Students received their doctoral hoods from the faculty members in charge of their clinical care group or from immediate family members who are also dentists.
Richard Kelowitz, D.D.S., a clinical assistant professor in the College of Dentistry, attends the ceremony each year to watch the students he’s worked with and mentored graduate.
“It’s great and unbelievable how intelligent and concerned these students are,” Kelowitz said.
Kelly Ackley, D.M.D., described graduation as “bittersweet.” She accepted a job as an associate dentist in Springfield, Fla. Her husband, parents and in-laws attended the graduation ceremony.
Michael Newman, D.M.D., could only think of one word to describe graduation: “Awesome.” He will join a private practice in Virginia Beach, Va.
For his mother, Debbie, the graduation ceremony came fast.
“It seems like we were just here for the white coat ceremony,” she said.