When the much-anticipated and gratefully heralded New Year dawned on Jan. 1, 2021, the bursts of light from fireworks represented more than a typical holiday celebration.
They represented light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
While 16 months have passed since the pandemic began, at some points it felt like an eternity. The work has been grueling and, at times, never-ending.
However, 2021 marked a turning point on several fronts. Two COVID-19 vaccines were approved, with more following closely on their heels, and our university wasted no time in making them available to our students, employees and community. As of press time, the vast majority of the DCG family has been fully vaccinated. Early in the year, many of our ranks volunteered when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an Executive Order allowing dentists to administer vaccines, supplying badly needed personnel to distribute the shots as quickly as possible.
Many of our students and employees also volunteered at the Augusta University vaccination clinics, enabling them to serve the community during the public health emergency.
What a blessing all these measures have been — and what an amazing testament to the selflessness and boundless resilience of our Augusta University family.
But as you can see when looking through the stories of this magazine, life has clearly gone on during the pandemic. We have continued hitting milestones, celebrating excellence and optimizing our mission on behalf of our students, residents, patients, faculty and staff.
Note the article about professionalism, for instance, which demonstrates our commitment not only to foster this mindset, but to honor it in every way possible. Likewise, the articles on our nationally renowned Dental Scholars Program and Impressions Program demonstrate our approach to recruiting, educating and supporting our students in the most innovative ways possible.
Many of our recent celebrations — the White Coat Ceremony, Hooding and Research and Table Clinic Day, to name just a few — had to be held virtually or otherwise modified to reflect pandemic-related safety protocols. But all have continued apace, and we eagerly await face-to-face celebrations in the near future.
Until then, please enjoy the smiling faces you’ll encounter in these stories, and keep smiling yourself. Our best days are ahead!