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Forever Go Blue

May 16, 2016


Good afternoon.

It is my honor to be representing our graduating dental class of 2016 on this very special day. It seems like just yesterday we were right down the road at Rackham Auditorium receiving our white coats. Over these four years, some of us have changed a little bit, some of us a lot-­‐ whether that be a few gray hairs coming in here or there; or in my case 6mm of a receded hairline. Speaking of recession though, I’m sure our graduates will surely miss saying to their assistants: 3, 2, 3; 4 2 3; BOP mesial…You gotta love those perio charts!

June 25, 2012-­‐ That was our first day of orientation at Palmer Commons. Quite a bit has happened since. Intellectually, we have grown and developed immensely. Thanks to the record keeping of our classmate Spencer Crouch, I have some impressive stats to share with you: throughout our four years of dental school-­‐ we completed 138 exams, 230 quizzes, 110 practicals and test cases, and 111 papers/projects.

Outside the classroom and clinic, we also had some great times and personal achievements. There were 26 engagements, 14 weddings, 19 babies born with a few more on the way, occasional tears, and countless laughs and countless memories together.

Now look at us. Doctors of Dental Surgery! We earned it. We sweated through Form 1 box preps, waxing, and setting denture teeth in sim lab. Now we can effectively and confidently treat complex cases from disease to health.

I’d also like to highlight the quality of education that we received from the school of dentistry. According to the QS World University Rankings, Michigan is ranked as the #1 dental school in the entire nation and get this, the #2 dental school in the entire world! That is very impressive! They weren’t kidding about that whole ‘leaders and best’ thing.
The ranking speaks volumes to the type of administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and of course phenomenal students that we have in this program.

We have a lot to be thankful for. On behalf of the graduating classes, we thank the wonderful faculty and staff for their mentorship. Another important group to be thankful for is our own personal support systems. Having all of you here and those who are here in spirit, celebrating this commencement and our official entry into the dental community is greatly appreciated. Whether that be parents, siblings, significant others, friends, mentors– thank you for your love and support!

Now for some final words I’d like to pass onto the class:

Jokes aside, the first piece of advice I would like to share: Never forget your “why.” You all have a passion for dentistry that led you to this career.  Whether your path is general dentistry, a specialty, solo or group practice, military, community, research or academics- don’t forget your passion.  Five years ago, in your personal statement when applying to dental school you outlined your reasons and motivation to be a dental professional. Don’t forget those!

Second, don’t settle.  Be confident in your abilities.  You have the skills and resources to succeed.  You are all bright and intelligent professionals.  But don’t be ordinary- be extraordinary.

Third.  Pay it forward.  Be a leader.  Be an advocate.  Be a mentor, be a difference in someone’s life.  Get involved, and do things in your community.  Put others first and give back.  As Winston Churchill once said- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Lastly and most importantly: Don’t forget.  Don’t forget where you have come from and where you have been.  We all got here differently, we all have our own story.  Some have a strong family tradition of dentists, some will be the first health professional in their whole family.  Many of us are from here in Michigan.  Quite a few from California, others from Canada, Cuba, Alaska, India, Afghanistan, you name it.  Some of us are only 24 years old- while others have families and have had other careers before this. But whatever your story, we all have one common destination along our route- The University of Michigan School of Dentistry.  Never forget that, never lose that bond with your classmates.  Yes, there will be some challenging times ahead.  But we have eachother.  Stay in touch, support each other, be that someone to talk to.

And one final quote from Maya Angelou to sum everything up:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Congratulations Class of 2016!  Enjoy and celebrate.  You’ve earned it.  And remember- wherever you go, forever Go Blue!

Commencement 2016-125

Andrew Grillo was the president of his D4 class.  Before being voted as class president his senior year, Andrew devoted his time to serving the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). He served as a representative his D1 year, vice president his D2 year and President his D3 year.  Andrew was also voted by his class as the recipient of the Ryan E. Turner Award.  

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