Friends and family cheered as the A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) class of 2012 entered the Comerica Theater in Phoenix, Ariz., for commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 8.
The 68 members of ATSU-ASDOH’s sixth graduating class received their Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, 23 of whom also received a Master in Public Health (MPH) through ATSU’s School of Health Management (SHM). In addition, three postgraduate orthodontic program residents received their Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) degree.
Said ATSU-ASDOH Inaugural Dean Jack Dillenberg “We are proud of this extraordinary class, and are looking forward to the contributions that they will make in the communities where they choose to practice and serve,” he said.
A significant fact regarding the class of 2012 is the that six graduates are American Indian, which is believed to be the largest number of American Indians to graduate from any U.S. dental school at one time. “I believe this is probably going to be a high-water mark for some time,” said George Blue Spruce, associate dean at the dental school and co-founder of the Society of American Indian Dentists. All six graduates plan to work with American Indian populations, such as those on reservations or at clinics affiliated with the national Indian Health Service.
ATSU President Jack Magruder presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Ronald F. Pollack, Esq., executive director of Families USA, the national organization for healthcare consumers. Families USA’s mission is to achieve high-quality, affordable health coverage and care for everyone in the country. Mr. Pollack was also the keynote speaker at the graduation.
Pollack spoke to the graduates about the importance of being a part of the solution for the medically uninsured and under insured. “My wish for you as you launch into your careers is to be a part of fixing the problem of uninsured in this country,” said Pollack. “I urge you and challenge you to think of what you will do to improve oral healthcare for people across the country.”