On Friday, May 17, the Curtis M. Philips Center was bright with promise and the smiles of the 79 graduates of the University of Florida College of Dentistry D.M.D. Class of 2013 as they crossed the stage to accept their degrees. Family, friends, and the college’s faculty and staff clapped, cheered, and snapped photos as each candidate received his or her orange-and-blue-lined doctoral hood, trimmed in lilac to indicate dentistry as their field of study.
An additional 44 students received certificates or graduate degrees in advanced dental education, marking the successful completion of their multi-year programs.
UF President Bernie Machen, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S., welcomed everyone with optimistic remarks, telling the graduates, “The future of dentistry is such that I envy the careers you are embarking upon.”
He reminded the newly minted dentists that “you have a very great future. You also have a great responsibility to give back to society.”
Machen also gave a brief tribute to Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.P.H., who retires in June after 10 years as dean of the college. He said, “She has elevated the status and reputation of dentistry as a profession because of the excellence with which she has performed her job.”
David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for UF Health Affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System, was also in attendance and was recognized for his significant contributions to the college.
The ceremony included addresses from class president Shaun Young, who shared stories from each of the graduating class’s four years of dental school; Kim Jernigan, D.M.D., the president of the Florida Dental Association; and the president of the Academy of Alumni & Friends, James Edward Martin III, D.M.D.
Jernigan told the candidates, “Your dental degree is going to take you further than you ever dreamed… away from that dental chair in situations and circumstances that you never envisioned.”
Graduates Angela McKneight and Johella Liguori honored the 2013 recipients of the Teacher of the Year Award, Karl Soderholm, D.D.S., Ph.D., and Luisa Echeto, D.D.S., M.S.
McKneight said, “Students admire Dr. Soderholm’s extensive knowledge base and his ability to relate complex biomaterials topics to everyday objects and occurrences.”
Liguori said that Echeto is “an inspiration and a role model to follow.”
Dolan, who presided over her last commencement ceremony, said, “We’re not saying goodbye to you. We hope to see you often, and we’re very proud of you and your accomplishments.”
To close the commencement proceedings, the attendees joined a soaring rendition of the UF Alma Mater led by new D.M.D. graduates Samantha Annas, Jayme Kemp and Anelisse Martinez.