134th Commencement Ceremony honors Class of 2023

A graduate waves as his hood is placed

The School of Dentistry celebrated its 134th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12th. 

Graduates and loved ones, along with faculty and staff, gathered in Northrop Auditorium to celebrate the 187 graduates. 

Dean Mays takes a selfie with a group of DDS graduates

The Class of 2023 includes 123 learners receiving their Doctorate of Dental Surgery, 25 receiving a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and six with a Master of Dental Therapy. In addition, the class includes 33 advanced education graduates: three with a Certificate and Master of Science in Endodontics, six completing the General Practice Residency, one receiving a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene, three receiving a Certificate in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, two receiving PhDs in Oral Biology, two a Certificate in Orofacial Pain, six a Certificate and Master of Science in Orthodontics, five a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry, two a Certificate and Master of Science in Periodontology, and three a Certificate and Master of Science in Prosthodontics.

Dr Moe Anderson speaks at the podium during commencement

The ceremony featured a keynote speech from Monica Anderson, DDS ’88. Known as Dr. mOe, Anderson is a motivational speaker, author, podcast host, dental consultant and provider who speaks on work-life balance, women’s empowerment, community-building and more.

Anderson shared her advice for graduates, reflecting on her own journey and encouraging learners to compose their personal mission statements and live by them. 

“Over the years, some goals will change, but your core values should not,” she explained. “Do the right thing for your patient, your career and your family’s future.” 

Mays speaks at a podium during commencement

She encouraged learners to practice humility, listen to others and explore their passions—and most importantly, to stay true to themselves. 

“It is not true that you are what you eat, or what you own,” she said. “Rather, you are what you do. You can blindly follow others, or make new paths where highways never ran…The choice is yours. And knowing what I do about everything it took for you to be here today, I sincerely believe you’ll not only make the right choices. I believe you’ll make history.” 

A graduate smiles while receiving her hood

Following Anderson’s remarks, Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, reflected on the hard work learners across programs completed to achieve this accomplishment before beginning the degree conferral process. “Being an oral health professional carries a significant responsibility, but you have received the knowledge, skills, attitudes and ethics from your faculty that will serve you well during your careers,” he said. “You are entering a great profession, one that will provide opportunities you cannot imagine. You will be leaders, representing your community, your alma mater and a profession that has high expectations for you. I encourage you to be a shining example of the greatness that the School of Dentistry creates.” 

Pedro Lopez Vega smiles and raises his hand in a cheer as he crosses the stage

In addition to receiving their diploma, DDS learners took part in hooding, with their doctoral hoods presented by Rachel Uppgaard, DDS, clinical associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, and Stephen Humbert, adjunct instructor of operative dentistry. Uppgaard and Humbert were selected by the graduating class to bestow their hoods in recognition of their support and mentorship throughout the program. 

Dental Therapy Class of 2023 tosses their caps

Graduates wore regalia that was provided for them by the generosity of donors to the Cap and Gown program, where alumni honor the cost of the celebratory wear as a way of welcoming new graduates into the profession and into the alumni community. 

After each degree was conferred, new graduates joined other practicing providers in the audience in reciting their respective oaths: the Oath of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Minnesota Oath for Dental Therapists and the Oath for New Dentists. These oaths represent the entrance into the profession and remind each practitioner of the responsibility they hold when it comes to the oral health and overall wellbeing of their patients and their communities. 

Congratulations to the 187 newest alumni of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry! 

Click on the image below to view a gallery of photos from the event.