School of Dental Medicine Grads Encouraged to ‘Make a Difference’

Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2024 entered the Staller Center of the Arts one last time as students for their convocation ceremony, and they left as the newest wave of dentists to join the workforce, smiling ear to ear alongside their family, friends and classmates.

All together, 43 members of the graduating class will begin residency or private practice this summer, approximately two-thirds of whom will do so in New York State. They will continue their training in disciplines such as general dentistry, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and periodontics, across nine states.

“You have left a mark on the school that will benefit those who follow for years and years to come,” said Patrick Lloyd, the school’s dean. “Your distinct personalities, different life experiences, and varied educational backgrounds were instrumental in helping us accomplish so much during your years here. And for that we are truly grateful.”

“As you move forward in your careers, get involved, lead the way, take responsibility — in our profession and in your communities. You’ve been given much and therefore much is expected,” he continued. “People will look to you for advice, for all sorts of issues — be there, help when you can, and as you’ve done here, make a difference.”

Among those who made an impression at the SDM was Jesse Mulham DDS ’24, who will begin his oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, in just a few weeks.

“It’s a pretty surreal moment. This is what I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” Mulham said. “It’s really special to see everything come to fruition. I’m extremely happy to take this next step in my life, to make my parents and mentors proud, and to celebrate this moment with my classmates.”

As class president, Mulham delivered the traditional graduate address in front of his classmates, who were among more than 500 people in attendance. The Class of 2024 gathered once more for a joyous post-ceremony reception at the Charles B. Wang Center, at which Preeya Thomas DDS ’24 expressed her excitement about her future as a general practice resident at Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also praised the companionship and drive of her colleagues who began their dental school journey during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This moment is really bittersweet,” Thomas said. “I’m just so proud of all of us as classmates. We leaned on each other, and I could not have done this without them. I’m also very thankful to have had the opportunity to go to Stony Brook, which gave me a great clinical foundation to move forward in my career.”

Christopher Fox, DMD, DMSc, chief executive officer of the International and American Associations of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research, delivered the afternoon’s keynote address, reminding the newest class of graduates of the inexorable link between oral and overall health, and the need for them to acknowledge the ever-evolving science in their chosen field.

“There’s no question you are entering the profession at a time of rapid scientific and technological change,” Fox said. “You have a responsibility to keep current with these advancements from, whatever manner you like to consume, trusted sources of scientific news. It is the profession’s responsibility — and that now includes you — that these advancements benefit everybody and not just those with a financial capacity to afford them. We need to use technology to close the gap of health disparities and not widen the gap.

“I am confident in today’s graduating class that you will each do your part in delivering oral health for all,” he continued. “The future of oral health in America is indeed bright and is in your hands.”

For more information and a slideshow from the convocation, visit the Dental Medicine website.

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