A Warm Introduction

August 8, 2022
students in white coats taking selfie

Along with an early August heat wave in Boston, came a wave of new dental students who arrived on campus for a weeklong Introduction to the Profession. Excitement ran as high as the 90-degree temperatures, as the students got to meet their classmates for the first time and learn more about what to expect in the first year of their program.

The week began with a welcome from the deans of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dean William Giannobile, and Dean George Daley addressed the incoming class of dental and medical students at a morning session held on the HMS Quad on Monday, August 1.

Dean Giannobile giving remarks from podium“We know that you have all worked incredibly hard to get here, and today begins a transformative experience in your lives and careers,” Dean Giannobile said. “It is the start of an amazing journey that will shape you into the healthcare providers, researchers, policy makers, and leaders you will become. Congratulations on taking this first big step in your professional careers!”

The 35 dental students in the Class of 2026 hail from 18 different states, and six different countries. The class is 60 percent female and 40 percent male, with a quarter of the new students coming from backgrounds underrepresented in dental medicine.

The class finished their first day with an introduction session at HSDM where they got to learn fun facts about each other and meet their HSDM faculty, staff, and advisors. For many, it confirmed their reasons for choosing HSDM.

“The HSDM community truly stands out to me,” said Victoria Shen, DMD26. “I saw a diverse community united by passion. I was inspired by the excitement that drove the students, faculty, and staff - each with their own unique interests and projects. I could see that as a student at HSDM, I would have the same opportunity to realize my own goals, with the help of more individualized attention given the smaller class size. Whichever path I choose to pursue, I know that my time at HSDM will be one of discovery, growth, and support.”

students clapping at white coat ceremonyOrientation sessions held throughout the week focused on topics such as health equity, professionalism, ethics, and community engagement. The students had a unique opportunity to hear from patients for the first time in a patient clinic. They also learned about the curriculum and resources available to support them.

“It starts with the curriculum and ends with the culture,” said Matthew Watt, DMD26. “HSDM offers an unparalleled approach to pedagogy with the Pathways Curriculum, all taught by faculty right at the forefront of their respective fields. Combining Harvard’s premium learning environment with an intimate class size composed of compassionate students and diverse thinkers, I feel motivated to develop alongside my classmates, fostering the next wave of global leaders in dentistry.”

The week culminated in a White Coat Ceremony held on Friday, August 5 on the Quad. Family members and friends joined the students to cheer them on as they took the stage to introduce themselves in their white coats.

Class of 2026 on front steps of school“With the white coat you wear today comes a great responsibility,” Dean Giannobile said addressing the students. “As future doctors, patients will entrust you with their care...One thing to always keep in mind is that it is a true honor and privilege to serve others.”

“On behalf of the HSDM community, we are committed to your success. We look forward to following your achievements over these next four years and encourage you to make the most of every moment here.”

View the White Coat Ceremony

See also: Students