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Herman Ostrow grad anticipates his next chapter amid pandemic

“I can confidently say that the future of dentistry is in terrific hands." The dean of Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC spoke those words of optimism and encouragement to the graduating class during the school's virtual commencement celebration May 15.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school held a full day of interactive, online celebrations in lieu of a traditional in-person ceremony. The celebration included a compilation of congratulatory videos from faculty and staff, a senior awards ceremony and messages from family and friends.

Despite the need for rapid changes to finish the academic year online, the dean, Avishai Sadan, DMD, believes the students adjusted well to the unforeseen circumstances.

“Your last trimester in this school has not been what any of us would have ever imagined,” he said. “This pandemic has provided incontrovertible proof that there is nothing that can hold you back.”

For recent grad Peter Kim, DDS, having to finish this journey virtually was a disappointment, but he believes the changes may be beneficial in the future.

“Dentistry by nature is a hands-on field, so virtual classes can’t replace the benefits of learning-by-doing, but online classes offered us advanced knowledge within different fields and specialties that can be useful to know,” he said.

Dr. Kim received the CDA Outstanding Senior Award during the ceremony. As a former CDA student delegate, he says he had the opportunity to interact with dentists who are truly inspired to cultivate the practice. “This experience gave me an understanding beyond the clinical and academic side of dentistry,” he said.

Kim will begin practicing as a general dentist once he obtains licensure in the fall and has plans of running his own practice one day. Despite beginning his new career amid the ongoing pandemic, Kim says dentistry is an evolving practice that has equipped him with the willingness to adapt to change.

“Dentistry is a constantly changing field,” he said. “I believe having a readiness to learn and adapt to new challenges is crucial to practicing patient-centered care successfully.”

The school plans to host a traditional ceremony next spring.

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