Women Compose Half of Incoming Dental Class for First Time in Dental School’s History
Peri Weingarten and Elisheva Weber
Keynote speaker Dr. Timothy Carlson
Class members wait for the processional to begin.
IDA President Terry Schechner (l), Dr. Steven Dixon, and Dr. Theresa Gonzalez
Women students have participated in Indiana’s dental classes ever since Hattie Scott and Lucinia McCollum earned their dental degrees in 1891, but for the first time in the 132-year history of Indiana’s dental school the newest Doctor of Dental Surgery class is composed of an equal number of males and females: 52 men and 52 women.
Large numbers of women have populated IU’s dental classes for the past generation, but this wasn’t always the case – in Indiana or anywhere else in the nation. Between 1879 and 1974, more than 5,000 men – and just 56 women – earned dental degrees from IU and its predecessor, the Indiana Dental College. The women in the DDS Class of 2015 represent the largest class group to date at IU.
The class includes a pair of sisters – Marisa and Taylor Kendra, of Highland, Ind. – and 2010’s Miss Indiana USA, Allison Biehle, of North Vernon, Ind.
One month after embarking on their education in dentistry at Indiana University, 104 students from 17 states and four nations gathered in Indianapolis to take the professional oath of Dentistry and to receive a white coat that will serve as a symbol of professionalism for them throughout their careers in healthcare.
The IU School of Dentistry ceremony was held before an audience of the students’ family and friends at the IUPUI Campus Center on Aug. 13. The students began their first semester in the four-year program on July 11.
Dean John Williams Jr. opened the White Coat Ceremony by welcoming the students and congratulating them on their acceptance into IU’s dental degree program. He spoke of oral health as a “priceless possession” and of dentistry as a profession that calls for dentists to be lifelong learners, and to put others above self.
“You are entering a profession that continually changes,” he said. “You must continue to be true to your values so that you never let your patients down.”
The IU School of Dentistry established the ceremony in 2001 as a means of underscoring the importance of ethics and professionalism in dentistry for students at the outset of their dental studies. The jacket-length coats have the school’s name embroidered in red thread above the breast pocket.
For the 2011 ceremony Dean Williams introduced longtime IU School of Dentistry faculty member Dr. Timothy Carlson as keynote speaker. Dr. Carlson is chair-elect of the Indiana Section of the American College of Dentists, co-director of the dental school’s International Service-Learning Program, and chair of the committee for Community Engaged Scholarship. For the past decade he has taken groups of students on service-learning trips to Haiti and Ecuador.
Dr. Carlson’s address was centered on the theme “do the right thing,” and he urged the students to remember it. “The public and the profession expect it of you,” he said, mentioning some of the many ways students can give back to the community through volunteer programs like the Kids Club while they are in school.
He commended the students for their outstanding predental academic achievements, including a class Grade Point Average that is the highest in the school’s history. “Work hard in dental school and embrace the challenge,” he said. “Practice every day what it means to be a dentist.”
He also urged the students to set the academic bar high in dental school, but to remember to take time to enjoy their families and maintain those important relationships.
Each member of the DDS Class of 2015 was then called to the stage to be coated. Assisting Dean Williams and Dr. Carlson were Dr. Terry Schechner, president of the Indiana Dental Association; and IU dental professors Dr. Steven Dixon, representing the school’s Comprehensive Care Clinics, and Dr. Theresa Gonzalez, president of Theta Theta Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honor society.
For the first time, students’ parents or other relatives with degrees in the health professions were invited to the stage to assist in the coat presentations. Click here to view more photos of the White Coat Ceremony. Click here to view a video of the event.
The new class, which was drawn from an international applicant pool of 1,619 persons, is composed of 74 Indiana residents and 30 nonresidents. The nonresidents are from Canada, South Korea, and Vietnam (one student each) as well as Illinois (6), Michigan (2), North Carolina (2), Ohio (3), and Texas (3); and one student each from Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The average age is 24 years old. A total of 64 of the new students completed their undergraduate work at Indiana colleges and universities, including 40 who studied at one of IU’s eight campuses. Eighteen of the students hold a master’s degree in addition to their baccalaureate training.
Indiana University School of Dentistry co-sponsors the White Coat Ceremony with the Indiana Dental Association, Indiana Section of the American College of Dentists, and Theta Theta Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon.
Dr. Theresa Gonzalez coats Vietnam Huynh.
Dr. Steve Dixon coats Christina Dean.
Dr. Nicholas Howard
Dean Williams leads the recessional.
Indiana University School of Dentistry
Doctor of Dental Surgery Class of 2015
Rocky D. Anderson