52 future dentists receive their white coats

A week after starting dental school, a new class of future dentists gathered for the annual white coat ceremony – a symbolic initiation into the profession of dentistry.

This year, 52 new students took part in the ceremony held at the Keller Auditorium with their loved ones. It’s the first time since 2019 that guests have been allowed to celebrate the milestone in person with freshmen.

words of wisdom

Dr. Steven Lepowsky, Dean of the School of Dentistry, kicked off the ceremony with remarks congratulating the incoming class and emphasizing the importance of the white coat ceremony.

“I congratulate the Class of 2026, not only for choosing one of the most beautiful and rewarding healthcare professions, but for choosing to start your professional career with us,” said Lepowsky. “You should be very proud of the incredible accomplishments you’ve made by coming here. Your class represents 53 of the brightest, most talented and accomplished students in the world – period.

The dean spoke about the history of the white coat ceremony, which began in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. By donning the white coat, the Dean explained, individuals have agreed to provide the highest ethical standards of patient care and to strive to meet the welfare needs of society.

Lepowsky continued, “The white coat is a symbol of professionalism, integrity and high ethical standards. It is a uniform that conveys responsibility and confidence; trust that your patients will place in you. It is your job to earn their trust by committing to never stop learning, never stop listening, and never stop growing. Putting on the white coat for the first time ushers in a life of compassionate and ethical care. It is a passage of service to humanity for the rest of your life and an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of individuals.

Dr. Bethany Brenner, president of the Connecticut State Dental Association and a member of the UConn dental class of 1979, delivered insightful remarks to the incoming class.

“The knowledge and skills you acquire here will prepare you for a very successful career. You will be part of a united family serving the public and our communities.

Brenner continued, “One day you’ll come across a case you’ve never seen before, and you’ll be happy to reach out to your wealth of like-minded, top-notch friends just like you. .”

Brenner challenged students to reflect on how dentistry has changed over the years and encouraged everyone to embrace new innovations and advances in dentistry.

“What are you going to invent? What research will you publish? Dentists are some of the best innovators and creators in the world,” Brenner said.

Dr. Ronald Birmingham, Chairman of the UConn Dental Alumni Board and a member of the Class of 2010, spoke about his time in dental school and the relationships he cultivated while at UConn.

“16 years ago I stood in your shoes,” Birmingham said. “The bonds you make over the next four years will be forever. Cherish this, because after you leave here, you can always call each other. You would be surprised at the level of knowledge of this group.

Birmingham encouraged students to explore, find mentors, take advantage of opportunities, volunteer and give to the future.

“You deserve that white coat. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up, express your opinion. Your opinion counts. Take time for yourself, mental breaks, social breaks. Take your time,” Birmingham stressed.

Class of 2023 member Quinn Kropf shared her greetings on behalf of the student body.

“The work ethic and dedication needed to get to where you are today is no small feat,” Kropf said.

Kropf reflected on his final years in dental school, emphasized the importance of the white coat ceremony and, as in Brenner and Birmingham, encouraged students to take advantage of school opportunities and support each other. on their peers and teachers.

“Try to maintain yourself as a professional. Learn as much as you can. Develop a passion for dentistry. Don’t be afraid to be humble. Last but not least, remember to have fun,” Kropf noted.

The class of 2026

The incoming class is 63% female and 37% male, with 23% of the class identifying as members of minority groups underrepresented in dentistry. Connecticut residents make up 56% of the class, with 35% of students being UConn undergraduates.

“We are very excited to welcome the class of 2026 and be part of their white coat ceremony. This is a very talented group of students,” said Dr. Donna Paolella, Associate Dean for Admissions.

An unconventional path to dental school

Incoming students come from impressive backgrounds. Lenka Serdar, in particular, took an unconventional path to dental school. In 2019, after graduating from Cornell University, Serdar was accepted into the School of Dentistry’s Class of 2024. At the time, Serdar was playing women’s professional ice hockey in Germany. Serdar deferred her offer to dental school after being invited to play on the Czech Republic women’s national hockey team and compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. After an exciting few years on the ice, Serdar now joins the class of 2026.

“Having traveled all over the world and living in four different countries, I am now entering the UConn School of 2026 dentistry class with a broader sociocultural perspective, a deeper understanding of health systems, and an invigorated passion. to fulfill my next dream – to become a dentist,” Serdar said. “I’m so excited to get to know all of my peers, to collaborate together in a team-learning approach, and to foster a growing environment that challenges and encourages us to bring out the best in each other.”

make it official

After the remarks, Paolella and Dr. Sarita Arteaga, Associate Dean for Students, led the presentation of the white coats – officially welcoming new students to the dental profession. Dr. Aditya Tadinada, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, distributed the Honor Code Affirmation and Code of Ethics booklet to students.

The White Coat Ceremony concluded with the Dentist’s Commitment Recital, led by Dr. Sophia Saeed, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs.

In 2024, students will gather again for a second white coat ceremony – a School of Dentistry tradition that honors the milestone of entering the clinical phase of training in the second year of the dental school.

The full ceremony, streamed live for family and friends, can be replayed here.

A video welcoming the class of 2026 is available here.

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