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White Coat Ceremony officially launches Class of 20227 min read

August 3, 2018

White Coat Ceremony officially launches Class of 20227 min read

Ann Arbor, Mich., Aug. 3, 2018 -– For the newly arrived students in the School of Dentistry’s Class of 2022, last week’s White Coat Ceremony was part symbolism and part pragmatic advice session.

D1 Student Thomas Havlichek is helped into his white coat on stage at Rackham Auditorium.

Each of the 109 students crossed the stage at Rackham Auditorium to don their personalized white clinic coat for the first time. The annual ceremony signifies the students’ commitment to pursue and uphold the highest standards of care and ethics of the profession.

Debra Peters, president of the Michigan Dental Association, delivers the keynote address.

Parents and family members from around the country attended the event, which is held about a month after students arrive at the school. Class members come from 27 states, Canada and China. They received undergraduate degrees from 13 Michigan colleges and universities and from 38 U.S. and international universities.

Faculty, alumni and members of several professional dental organizations welcomed the students, emphasizing that the class, despite coming from widely diverse backgrounds, will soon develop a deep and lasting camaraderie because of their shared coursework, schedules and requirements over the next four years. They will make lifelong friends in dental school as they navigate a challenging curriculum that leads to a deeply rewarding career in health care, speakers told the class.

Here are excerpts from the remarks and advice presented during the ceremony:

Grayson Tishko’s parents, Adrienne and Dennis, are among the audience members recording the class as it recites the Oath of Aspiring Dentists. The Tishkos traveled from Florida for the ceremony.

• School of Dentistry Dean Dr. Laurie McCauley: “It is important for me to acknowledge that our job as faculty is to prepare you for life-long learning. Our job is to do much more than teach you how to clean, restore, move or remove teeth.  Even more important is our mission to prepare you to think creatively and critically, to find innovative solutions to a wide range of problems -– problems that don’t even exist today, problems that you will encounter 10 years, 20 years or 30 years from now. Our mission is to position you to be out front in leading the profession of dentistry. We strive for you to leave the School of Dentistry equipped to successfully deal with the road blocks and detours you will encounter in your professional lives. It’s a lofty goal, but one this School of Dentistry has embraced and excelled at since its inception 143 years ago.”

• Dr. Debra Peters, president of the Michigan Dental Association and an alumna: Calling dentistry “our noble profession,” Peters noted that it is both art and science. “I encourage you to learn good communication skills and explore the areas of emotional intelligence. Dentistry has entrepreneurial opportunities and opportunities for collaboration. It’s a profession where you will serve, utilizing your skills developed and refined over a lifetime, serving not just with your head and your hands, but also with your heart. … If I had to impart but one bit of wisdom … it would be: Everything you need to accomplish your goals is already in you. It is your responsibility to discover what that is.”

Nisha Patel smiles as she slips into her coat with help from Anushey Pervez. At left is senior Amanda Robertson.

• Milad Karim, president of the Class of 2019: “The next four years are going to fly by faster than you can imagine, but in time you will also have gained an astonishing amount of knowledge and memories that you will forever cherish. … Your patients will appreciate your sincere effort to give them the best treatment that you are capable of. Some of them will hug you. Some of them will finally be able to smile again. And some will even shed a happy tear because they’ve never been treated so well before. These experiences make all the long hours of studying and practicing so rewarding. You are going to make a positive impact on many lives and it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”

• Dr. Michael Owen, president of the Michigan Academy of General Dentistry: Owen told students that dental school is the first step on a journey. “Any of us who have been in the profession for a while know that it changes as you go. If you think of this as your first step, it is a never-ending journey, because it is a constant learning process, a constant change to the profession. It’s really incumbent on all of you to stay up with those changes as we go through. … That really is the focus of our organization – continuing education.”

• Dr. Steven Sulfaro, Regent, Ninth District, International College of Dentists and an alumnus: Sulfaro encouraged students to be active in professional organizations such as the ICD, which is the largest international honorary dental society with members in 130 countries. “Dentistry is hard, demanding work, but also incredibly rewarding … financially, professionally, personally, spiritually. … You will soon find out that the University of Michigan School of Dentistry is truly one of the leaders and best, the greatest dental school in the world. … Believe me, it is a really tough world out there and the challenges of this place serve to help prepare you for what lies ahead outside these walls. … The path without any obstacles usually leads to nowhere. If it was easy, anybody could be a dentist.”

• Dr. Stephen Sterlitz, clinical assistant professor, Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics, and an alumnus: Drawing on a popular advertising campaign for Dos Equis beer, Sterlitz told students they must embrace lifelong learning. Like the catchphrase used by the television commercial’s “Most Interesting Man in the World,” they must “stay thirsty.” “The volume of knowledge you are expected to learn during dental school is like drinking from a fire hose. So much information is required to be a competent clinician that it will seem like the lessons will never end. There are no shortcuts to being a well-rounded, educated clinician. You are at the No. 1 dental school in the world, you have access to the top scholars in their fields, and you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from dental pioneers. If Dos Equis made a dental school commercial, your faculty would be the most interesting people in their fields. My hope for you is that, despite the long hours studying, despite the never-ending difficult lessons, you celebrate all the Michigan School of Dentistry has to offer while drinking from the firehose of dental education. And stay thirsty, my friends.”

The Class of 2022 gathers around Dean Laurie McCauley for a group photo after the ceremony.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.