On May 26, 2009, with nearly 3,000 people in attendance at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the NYUCD Class of 2009-including 347 candidates for the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery, as well as candidates for Advanced Education certificates, certificates in clinical research, Master of Science degrees in Clinical Research, Bachelor of Science degrees in Dental Hygiene, and Associate in Applied Science degrees in Dental Hygiene-was lauded enthusiastically by joyous families, teachers, and friends.
"This is your moment," said Dean Bertolami. "Enjoy it to the fullest."
In addition to the conferral of degrees, highlights of the graduation ceremony included presentation of the Dr. Harry Strusser Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to improved public health to Class of 1964 graduates Dr. Martin Kane and Dr. Stephen J. Cuchel, healthcare advocates, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists; and to Ms. Colleen Zenk Pinter, actor, humanitarian, and oral cancer survivor.
In accepting their award, Drs. Kane and Cuchel spoke of the immense gratification to be derived from practicing in a socially responsible way. "To be the health profession we want it to be," they said, "dentistry must provide care for everyone in our society."
Ms. Zenk Pinter, a two-time Emmy Award nominee for her role since 1978 as Barbara Ryan on CBS's As the World Turns, has become a very visible spokesperson for the early detection of oral cancer since her diagnosis in 2007, even convincing her producers to write her cancer into her character's storyline. Ms. Zenk Pinter challenged the graduates to be vigilant in examining patients for oral cancer, so that the tragedy that befell her would not happen to others.