By Susan Han
Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2003
In 1999, I
took a year off from my dental studies at Harvard to try to find
out what the future of dentistry holds. I can say without hesitation
that if there is one school that epitomizes the future of dentistry,
it is the NYU College of Dentistry.
The first thing
that struck me about NYUCD was a feeling of boundless energy. From
the moment I entered the Schwartz Lobby, I felt myself caught up
in an exhilarating whirl of activity that mirrored the rhythms of
the Colleges New York City location. Just like New York City,
things move quickly at NYUCD. But despite the excitement and edginess
of the environment, a clear sense of purpose quickly emerged: To
deliver the most progressive dental education program possible,
serve the needs of New Yorks diverse, dynamic patient populations
in the most effective and efficient way possible, and foster research
to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.
Each day I found
myself inspired by the array of new initiatives, from Dean Alfanos
campaign to focus public awareness on the importance of oral cancer
screenings to Dr. Stuart Super performing dramatic facial reconstructive
surgery on patients with congenital abnormalities to the launching
of the Smiling Faces, Going Places mobile dental care program
to Dr. Racquel LeGeross investigations into the impact of
ethnicity on oral health statusthe list goes on and on.
There was not
one moment during the year that I felt unchallenged. Everything
at NYUCD is always changing, growing, evolving into something better,
something stronger. Even in the face of seemingly insurmountable
obstacles, the people I met were always willing to persevere, try
a new approach, and put in additional time to advance the Colleges
objectives. It is that impression of innovation, dedication, and
determination that I took back with me to Harvard. To say that my
experience at NYUCD has been a constant source of inspiration to
me since my return to Harvard would be a gross understatement.
One of my last
duties at NYUCD was to act as an usher at the Graduation Ceremony
featuring a keynote address by U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher.
I remember listening to his eloquent remarks and feeling such an
immense sense of pridenot only in being a part of the dental
community, but, for a brief period, being a part of the NYUCD community.
There are days when dental school can feel overwhelming. But my
experiences at NYUCD have kept me motivated to finish dental school
and to make my own contributions to dentistry, even perhaps someday
as a faculty member at NYUCD.