With an oversized toothbrush held high above their heads, and big smiles on their faces, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) Class of 2019 marched into Harvard Yard for Harvard University’s 368th Commencement on Thursday, May 30. The students cheered and posed for photos as they took their seats alongside fellow graduates from across Harvard in a sea of crimson in Tercentenary Theatre. The ceremony was filled with music, celebratory remarks, and distinguished guests including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Harvard President Larry Bacow verbally conferred the degrees, recognizing degree recipients from each Harvard school. HSDM’s graduating class of 34 individuals receiving the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, 19 receiving the Master of Medical Sciences degree and eight receiving the Doctor of Medical Sciences degree, were recognized with cheers from the crowd.
In the afternoon, HSDM students reunited with their Harvard Medical School (HMS) classmates to celebrate Class Day on the Quad. Harvard dental and medical school graduates, along with faculty, family and friends, gathered to hear remarks by student speakers, deans from both schools, and keynote speaker Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician, educator and public health advocate whose research exposed the lead crisis in the water supply in Flint, Michigan.
HSDM Class Day speaker Tom Ferlito, DMD19 spoke about the strong bonds formed with his classmates and the compassion and care they developed as healthcare providers.
“We started four years ago as smart ones, and we became even smarter ones yet. Smarter ones who, all the while, cared about our patients – no excuses,” Ferlito said.
“But unfortunately, the world has shown us that being smart and caring is not always enough...we need to be brave ones too. Brave ones who turn our ideas into action, who speak our visions into truth. Brave ones who care with a backbone, who stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves,” he said.
HSDM Dean Bruce Donoff, DMD67, MD73, congratulated the graduates and urged them to use their education to help people through compassion and caring.
“Your achievements should make you very proud,” said Donoff. “Be the leaders you are in transforming our health care world, through science, policy and compassionate care.”
HMS Dean George Daley also urged graduates to use their education to alleviate suffering and to enhance patient health and wellbeing. At the end of his remarks he acknowledged Dean Donoff’s long career of service to Harvard.
“I want to give a special recognition to my colleague Dr. Bruce Donoff, who later this year will be stepping down after 28 years of distinguished leadership of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine,” Daley said. “Dean Donoff has been a visionary who has advanced the cause of integrating oral health and medicine, and through his training of generations of Harvard students, leaves a profound legacy in the field of dental medicine.”
After the remarks, each graduate was called to the stage to receive their diploma and hood to the delight and applause of their proud family and friends. Together, the HSDM and HMS grads recited a class oath they wrote to their future patients, promising to be curious and collaborative caregivers who treat their patients with respect and dignity and practice the highest quality of care. As Class Day came to a close, the new graduates set forth to make their mark as doctors.
Learn more about the Class of 2019 graduates: