U School of Dentistry Graduates First Class

Alex Steele

By Claudia Robles

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The University of Utah’s School of Dentistry graduated their inaugural class this year.

“Graduating in the first class feels like we are leaving a legacy — a legacy of collaboration, relationship building, and involvement that future classes will surely surpass,” said Amber Clark, one of the students expected to graduate.

In total, 20 students are anticipated to graduate with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. The inaugural class of the school had the second highest collective GPA for incoming dental students in the US, following Harvard University.

The curriculum developed and implemented by the School of Dentistry left mastering new material and clinical skills up to each individual student. This method appears to have been successful, as the class of 2017 have all passed their dental board exams and their scores rank in the top 15 percent nationally.

Glen Hanson, associate dean and former interim dean of the School of Dentistry, feels that the class of 2017 is one of a kind.

“In a new school, policies and expectations are often fluid,” Hanson said. “This class understood that during this implementation phase decisions were not always set in stone and often needed to be modified or even scrapped if found to be inappropriate or inefficient. The class members recognized their role as pioneers, making the adjustments required to improve the school and being willing to serve as leaders and mentors for subsequent classes.”

Some of the criteria used during the admissions process for the School of Dentistry’s first class include intellectual ability as measured by GPA and Dental Aptitude Test scores, passion for becoming a dentist, an ability to self-learn and self-motivate and adaptive leadership skills. This year, the school will admit 50 applicants into the program.

“You always want your successors to achieve even more than you, and to continue to inspire their successors to do the same,” said Clark. “I hope we helped set that stage.”

Clark reflected on the experience, saying, “Being the guinea pigs these past four years truly ties us together, and we are proud to be the inaugural class of 2017. It is exciting to reflect upon all that my class has accomplished these past four years, and we will always remember the supportive faculty and the awesome relationships we have formed that helped us through dental school.”

The School of Dentistry will hold commencement on Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m. in Kingsbury Hall.

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