Harvard opens doors. I chose to attend Harvard School of Dental Medicine because I didn’t know what doors I wanted to open, let alone walk through. The HSDM curriculum just leads to limitless possibilities and has produced countless leaders in academia, clinical specialties, industry, government, and organized dentistry. Learning together with our medical school colleagues in the first two years provides a solid foundation upon which to build a career in the health professions. The clinical experiences, rotations, study abroad opportunities, research requirements, opportunities to study at other graduate schools of Harvard, and research opportunities at Harvard teaching hospitals, allow the HSDM student to align their interests and passions to build a lifelong and fulfilling career that makes a positive impact on society.
My personal path involved two great mentors, Professor Chester W. Douglass and Professor Ray C. Williams. This allowed me to complete two specialties in dental public health and periodontology and also earn a doctorate in Oral Biology and Epidemiology. Professors Douglass and Williams have remained lifelong mentors who along with fellow dental student Dr. John DaSilva (now Vice Dean HSDM) and post-doctoral student Dr. Sheila McGuire Riggs (now Department Chair of Primary Dental Care in Minnesota) have provided invaluable guidance and advice throughout my career. That’s another great benefit of HSDM – mentors for life, no extra charge!
About half my career (so far), I’ve spent in private industry and for the last 14 years, I’ve been executive director of the International and American Associations for Dental Research. I would not be able to perform my job were it not for the solid research and educational foundation I received at HSDM. I should also mention that my education and training at HSDM would not have been possible without U.S. Government support. Coming from modest means, dental school was possible with a combination of Harvard and Government grants and loans, post graduate training with a National Institute of Dental Research training grant, and my doctoral thesis was based on a research project funded by the National Institute of Aging. The early Government support I received is something I never forget with one of my current job responsibilities of advocating for NIH and NIDCR funding on Capitol Hill. I will also never forget the doors Harvard opened for me.