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UCSF School of Dentistry graduate embarks on new beginnings amid pandemic

July 20, 2020 5809

Graduates at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry are stepping into new beginnings in the COVID era.

Graduates at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry are stepping into new beginnings in the COVID era.  The students received their doctorates of dental surgery June 9 during an online ceremony in which faculty and staff reflected on their last four years together. They also encouraged graduates to remain resilient in their quest to shape the future of dentistry.

Graduating virtually had its perks for UCSF grad Johanna Tan, DDS, who says she enjoyed the online ceremony at home, eating popcorn while in her pajamas.

“Surprisingly, the virtual ceremony was quite pleasant,” she said. “Our class board did a phenomenal job of making the situation as personable and meaningful as it can get.”

Leaving behind the cool and cloudy skies of the Bay Area, Dr. Tan will soon begin a pediatric dentistry residency at Montefiore in Bronx, New York. Despite the many changes the pandemic has spurred over the last few months, Tan refuses to let the current circumstances derail her career plans.

“I went into dentistry because I want to help people,” she said. “This pandemic isn’t going to change who I am or make me forget why I decided to join this profession to begin with.”

As a former CDA student delegate, Tan says she had the opportunity to work with fellow student delegates to address common issues around campus and emphasize the importance of organized dentistry at UCSF. “I learned so much about policymaking and how organized dentistry functions for the greater good of our profession,” she said.

Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed — Tan was awarded the CDA Outstanding Student Award during the graduation ceremony. Her favorite award, however, is an accomplishment she’ll cherish for a lifetime.

“I think the best award I won is becoming the first doctor in my family and being able to celebrate this milestone with my loved ones,” she said.

Looking forward, Tan plans to stay involved with organized dentistry. Within the next 10 years, she sees herself working part time in a private practice, while teaching once a week, in addition to working in a children’s clinic in underserved communities. She wants to serve children with disabilities.

As she begins her next chapter, her advice to incoming students is to make room for what they’re passionate about and always be ready to learn.

“Have fun, be open-minded and be ready to be a lifelong learner,” she said. “Dental school is hard, but it’s definitely a rewarding field to be in.”

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