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DDS Class of 2028 arrives at School of Dentistry8 min read

June 22, 2024

DDS Class of 2028 arrives at School of Dentistry8 min read

New students Chloe Stensrud (left) and Shelby Stammen talk with faculty member Rodrigo Maia during the opening session at the Michigan League ballroom.

Ann Arbor, Mich., June 22, 2024 – Members of the School of Dentistry’s Class of 2028 arrived this week from around the country to start their 4-year journey to a DDS degree.

The 109 members of the class were admitted from a pool of 1,716 applicants.

The class statistical snapshot:

• The 62 women and 47 men continue a trend in recent years that has seen a surge in interest in dentistry from women.

• 65 are Michigan residents, 44 from out-of-state.

• Four class members have master’s degrees.

• Average age: 22.

Class members graduated from 11 Michigan colleges and universities: 27 from the University of Michigan (24 from the main campus in Ann Arbor and 3 from U-M Dearborn); 15 from Michigan State University; 4 from both Wayne State and Oakland universities; 3 from Grand Valley State; 2 from both Detroit Mercy and Saginaw Valley State; and 1 each from Aquinas College, Calvin University and Hope College.

Beyond Michigan, members of the new class earned their undergraduate degrees at 37 higher education institutions across the land. They range from small colleges such as Muhlenberg, Rollins and Saint Norbert to major universities from coast to coast – from Washington in the Pacific Northwest to Maryland and North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the East, with Utah, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida State in-between, among others.

Third-year dental student Megan Packer (right) answers a question for several of the new students as the class waits in an auditorium for their portraits to be taken. Pictured are (front row, from left) Lillian Dipanni of Rochester Hills, Mich.; Zolzaya Byambasuren of Schaumburg, Ill.; Israa Abu-Zahra of West Bloomfield, Mich.; Kyung Ryung Bae, of Blacksburg, Va.; Megan Bishop of St. Clair, Mich.; and Nick Doman of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Dental school administrators, faculty and staff welcomed the first-year dental students, known as D1s, to campus with a series of orientation sessions this week. Dean Jacques Nör and Dr. Reneé Duff, Associate Dean for Students, discussed the school’s educational mission, resources, and history, as well as the rewards of the profession of dentistry. Duff encouraged students to consider themselves as members of a large team who can rely on each other and an extensive network of resources designed to help students not just survive or navigate the challenges of the professional program, but to thrive over the course of their time at the dental school.

Nör said the school’s curriculum and faculty intend for each graduate to leave the school as “a highly skilled competent clinician with a deep understanding of the scientific foundation of dentistry and the compassion to serve those in need.”

“The journey is what makes this special,” Nör said. “It is such a wonderful opportunity that each one of you has now to undergo a life-changing training. You are going to be different when you leave here. You are going to have a profession that gives you an opportunity to do really meaningful and very significant things for your patients.”

Second-year dental student Delasi Denoo points the way for Samuel Nahass as the new class signs into the school’s computer system in the Simulation Lab on Day Two of orientation. Several second-year dental students used their year of experience to help the new students navigate computer programs and the check-in of dental instruments and equipment.

When Nör returns to the place where he first began private practice more than three decades ago he often encounters his former patients who will remind him that he completed a certain procedure or a filling for them that is still in place today. “You can make things better for people, things that are extremely meaningful for people, things they are not going to forget for their whole lives,” he said. “It’s a wonderful profession and we are welcoming each one of you to this new profession and this new journey.”

Orientation sessions this week included an overview of the first-semester curriculum; check-in of each student’s dental instruments and equipment in the Simulation Lab; advice from upper-level dental students; a review of student services, policies and procedures; an introduction to the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives; and wellness and counseling resources. The D1s also were introduced to a new program called “1st Year Connect,” an online directory of about 120 students, faculty and alumni of the school who have volunteered to be mentors for the first-year students; the directory descriptions allow D1s to find mentors with similar interests in a variety of dentistry and educational specialties.

Anshul Saraf

Breaks and waiting between events during Orientation gave members of the new class time to begin learning about each other’s unique journeys of choosing to pursue dentistry and how they have ended up as classmates at the U-M dental school in Ann Arbor. As he waited with classmates for his turn to be photographed for the school directory, Anshul Saraf described growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the only kid among his friends who didn’t object to going to the dentist, which he says was maybe a sign of things to come.

During his undergraduate years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Saraf honed an interest at the intersection of medicine and business. He majored in bio-chemistry with minors in business and chemistry. He eventually decided that dentistry, rather than medicine, would allow him to more quickly combine his interests in a health field and business. He applied to 17 dental schools and was accepted at four.

Second-year dental student Maya Aoude (standing) offers assistance to Madeline Gertsen (front) and Zeena Garada during the Sim Lab orientation.

“I picked this program specifically because of its exposure for clinical experience and different specialties – that and their emphasis on business,” he said. “In your third year you can do an MBA while in the dental program, which is something I’m interested in.” He likes that he will gain lots of clinical experience to help him narrow his interests, and he acknowledges he may change his mind on the MBA by the time he reaches his third year. “But I want to keep as many doors open as possible,” he says.

The first day of dental school was a little daunting, Saraf said, but it was also the rewarding culmination of a lot of work and planning over the last few years. “I’m excited to hit the ground running, learn from my mistakes, learn from my environment and my experience with my peers,” he said. “The last four years have been building up to this moment where you say you are pre-dental, and you say you have applied, and you say you have gotten in. But it doesn’t start until you are here. It is exciting to get it going.”

Dental Informatics staff member Usha Dronamraju and new student Jeremy Russ solve a computer log-in problem in Sim Lab on the second day of Orientation.
New D1 student Alexander Pocze examines articulating paper forceps, one of the many dental instruments students found during check-in at their work stations on their first day in Sim Lab.
The DDS Class of 2028


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare 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 online at or email us at [email protected] or call (734) 615-1971.