Before I began dental school, a mentor told me there were three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what just happened.
Dentists and dental students make things happen – that’s what unites us as leaders in service and our profession. We are not satisfied with the status quo. We can evaluate any situation and with our intelligence, passion, and character leave things better than we found them.
As the Class of 2015 began our journey at GRU unsure of the challenges ahead of us, we were both anxious and excited. United in our profession, we would come to spend a vast amount of time together. We worked together. We struggled, celebrated, cried, and laughed ’til we cried together. Most importantly, we grew together and created an enduring bond that characterizes our class solidarity.
These trials and challenges have transformed me into the person I am today. No matter my successes or failures, I find continued drive in knowing that my environment is full of support and colleagues at all levels committed to helping me improve my patient care skills. It was not the RVU count, competencies, or graduation requirements completed that have made me happy to go about my day, but rather how I spend my time in this environment, working among passionate and talented colleagues willing to share their skills and knowledge.
Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” So how do we count or measure what makes our time here worthwhile? Better yet, how do we continue to make each moment worthwhile? Our connections with patients, faculty, and classmates inspire us in the face of student debt, countless hours studying, and time away from family and loved ones. As graduation approaches, I would like to leave you with three challenges:
Take the time to realize we are some of the most fortunate people in the world. Our profession allows us to care for others and be a part of their lives when they are most vulnerable. Individuals come to us for help and trust us with the most intimate and personal details of their lives, yielding to probing questions and probing hands. We have worked hard to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make people’s lives better – to give something of ourselves that will have far-reaching impact on our patients’ happiness and quality of life. Remember this next time you need the motivation to get out of bed at 4 a.m. or work on a weekend or holiday.
Don’t underestimate your capacity to bring about change for the better. Stand up for what you believe in and empower others to do the same through mentorship, encouragement, and support. Others will look to you and emulate your attitudes, values, and actions. Think about the leaders who helped you get to where you are today and strive to be that kind of a person. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who receives the credit.
Never stop learning. Consider how much dental knowledge has changed in the last 25 years, or even since we started professional school. Our most important skill is not to memorize or learn everything, but to remain humble and remember we do not and cannot know everything. Stay inquisitive, informed, and engaged. Take the time to teach others. Be open to change and remember we are part of something larger than ourselves. Our reward is our ability to help people on a daily basis while learning from those whose lives we touch. Winston Churchill reminds us that “we make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
Thank you all for making my time here worthwhile. I will surely cherish it. Keep it classy, class of 2015!