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Dental School alumna graduation speaker now a dean

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 · Volume: XLVI · Issue: 15

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(Left to right) Dental School Dean William Dodge, D.D.S., visits with 1983 alumna and guest speaker Teresa Dolan, D.D.S., M.S.; Birgit Junfin Glass, D.D.S., M.S., associate dean for academic affairs; and President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP. Click on photos for larger view.
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(Left to right) Dental School Dean William Dodge, D.D.S., visits with 1983 alumna and guest speaker Teresa Dolan, D.D.S., M.S.; Birgit Junfin Glass, D.D.S., M.S., associate dean for academic affairs; and President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP. Click on photos for larger view. clear graphic

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By Rosanne Fohn

Life has taken many unexpected turns for 1983 alumna Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.S., who was the guest speaker at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School’s 2013 commencement ceremony.

The child of an Austrian immigrant, Dr. Dolan grew up in a family with “a lot of love, but not a lot of money. No one in my entire extended family had the opportunity to earn a college degree,” she said. However, she took advantage of academic opportunities, grants and loans, and worked part-time in college and during dental school to reach her goal.
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Thirty years later, she serves as dean of the College of Dentistry at the University of Florida. “She is the first and only graduate of our Dental School to be named a dental school dean,” said UT Health Science Center San Antonio Dental Dean William Dodge, D.D.S., in introducing Dr. Dolan.

More than 1,000 diplomas awarded
According to a report* released by the Office of Institutional Analysis July 16, more than 1,005 students graduated from the UT Health Science Center in May and June, including 149 from the Dental School, 361 from the School of Health Professions, 43 from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 234 from the School of Medicine and 218 from the School of Nursing.


Maria Villarreal (left) takes her photo with Sarah Ullevig and Neha Garg, all Ph.D. graduates in biochemistry. The Graduate School of Biomedical Science
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Maria Villarreal (left) takes her photo with Sarah Ullevig and Neha Garg, all Ph.D. graduates in biochemistry. The Graduate School of Biomedical Science's commencement was held May 25. clear graphic

 

Be grateful for those who believe in you
During her time as a student at the UT Health Science Center, Dr. Dolan said, “I benefitted from the kindness, generosity and support of so many people, including many people in this audience — members of your faculty, some of whom were classmates of mine! Some were teachers and mentors.”

She urged the dental and dental hygiene graduates to be grateful to those who have supported them. She also encouraged them to support the transformational power of publically supported higher education, which can offer opportunities to people of all economic levels and can lead them to opportunities that can’t be imagined on graduation day.

Be open to future opportunities
“I have to admit that when I graduated from dental school I never thought for a minute that I would join the faculty of a dental school or that I would become an associate dean or dean,” she said, noting that she has spent 28 of the 30 years since graduation in academia.

“I didn’t even know where I wanted to live or what aspect of dentistry I wanted to focus on,” she continued. “But that’s the power of a professional degree and excellent higher education. The world is yours. You have the power and the opportunity to shape your world. You have opportunities that you never even considered or knew existed."

She challenged the graduates to “Be flexible, patient, visionary, opportunistic, courageous, willing to take chances, and forgive yourself and others in order to make your dreams a reality.”

Graduating class’ work could lift up millions of people
During his remarks to the graduates, President William L. Henrich, M.D., said, “Oral health care is critical, not only to the overall health and well-being of an individual, but to a community. The thousands of people you or your work will touch over the course of your career mean that, ultimately, what you and your fellow graduates accomplish, collectively, has the potential to lift up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Your life ahead is full of promise and possibility, not only for yourself, but for all of us who will benefit from your contributions.”

* Degree counts are not certified until Oct. 1, 2013.

 
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