Dr. Roslyn Crisp (President-Elect of the NCDS) and Dr, Curtis Newsome addressed the Class of 2026 and provided encouraging words about being future leaders in the profession.
Members of the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2026 received their white coats during a Jan. 19 ceremony in Hendrix Theatre.
More than 500 students, faculty, staff, family and friends joined the students as they donned their white coats and marked the start of the clinical phase of their educational experiences.
“This day marks a very important day in the lives of our students and the history of the School of Dental Medicine,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, vice dean and interim associate dean for student affairs. “To the class of 2026, this is an important milestone in your professional lives, because today is the day you formally accept your responsibilities to your patients, to your communities and to society.”
ECU’s dental students receive their white coats during their second year of dental school, following classroom instruction and skills practice in simulation labs.
Representatives of dental organizations were on hand during the ceremony to greet the students and wish them well along their journeys to becoming dentists.
Today you will receive your white coat as a symbol of your commitment, the weight of professionalism and the responsibility entrusted in you as future dentists,” said Dr. Dr. Benetta Gadegbeku-Bell, chair of the Carolinas Section of the American College of Dentists. “As you wear your coats, your patients will be placing their dental care literally in your hands.
We implore you to exemplify the ideals that make up our profession and make it great — empathy, excellence, honesty and leadership.”
Dr. Curtis Newsome, president of the Old North State Dental Society, urged the class to withstand the most difficult moments of their dental school experiences.
“Embrace your time here in dental school,” he said. “Believe me, I know how tough it can be at times, but remember that the strongest steel is forged in the hottest of fires. Learn to become very good dentists, maintain your enthusiasm for the process, get active in clubs and organizations. We want you all to be our future leaders.”
Dr. Roslyn Crisp addressed the students as president-elect of the North Carolina Dental Society and as the mother of Dr. Alex Crisp, who graduated as part of the school’s inaugural Class of 2015.
“I am so grateful for the folks here at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine for the awesome training that my son received here and the opportunity it afforded him to realize his life goal of becoming an oral surgeon,” Crisp said.
She added that the relationships she’s made over 42 years as a pediatric dentist have served her well over the years.
“One thing that I learned early on in my dental career is that you cannot practice dentistry alone; you can’t practice on an island,” she said. “You will never, ever know it all, but together, you can pretty much know most of it.”
Crisp encouraged the class to relish the experience and to keep their purposes in mind along the way.
“This is a precious opportunity for you to make a difference in the world; you can change the world, actually, one smile at a time. Your journey will change lives and as a result, it will change you,” she said. “I get repeatedly asked, ‘When do you think you’ll stop doing this?’ I love dentistry, I love the profession, I love the people in the profession, and my answer to them is, ‘I have smiles to go before I sleep.’”
Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, addressed the students and described the importance of the patient-dentist relationship.
“This white coat symbolizes the confidence that we’ve placed in you and your abilities. It also symbolizes the most important relationship that you’ll have in your professional life: the relationship between the patient and a doctor,” he said. “You’re about to discover something very special, an element that has been missing up to this point in your career — and that’s the patient and the special privilege you’re going to be given to provide care for another human being.”
Before the students walked across the stage and were helped into their white coats by their chosen faculty members, Dr. Roopwant Kaur and Dr. Lakshmi Senkumar, Chadwick reminded them of their place in the history of the dental profession.
“We’re the beneficiaries of a significant gift that was given to us by previous generations of dentists as they advanced dentistry from a trade to a profession, by moving dentistry into the universities, basing treatment on science and evidence and academic rigor,” Chadwick said. “They left a legacy, and now you will share in the obligation to uphold that legacy and advance our profession. And in the end, we hope that you’ll leave your own legacy for the profession, one that will be better off because you were a part of it.
Source: ECU News