Dental Therapy Class of 2023 honored with banquet

Six members of the Dental Therapy Class of 2023 pose outside

The Dental Therapy Class of 2023 celebrated their upcoming commencement ceremony together with a lunch banquet on Wednesday, May 10th. 

The banquet honored the six graduating members of the Dental Therapy Class of 2023, the first class to graduate with CODA accreditation. Members of the class include Missy Berget, Karen Bird, Lucy Buerke, Gracie Comeau, Mai Anh Hoang and Rosemary Skriver.

Celebrations included a luncheon, social time and a more formal program. 

Karl Self, DDS, MBA, speaks at a podium

Your graduation is much anticipated, and yet for many of us, it’s hard to believe this day is here,” reflected Karl Self, DDS, MBA, director of the Division of Dental Therapy and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in a speech to the graduating class. Recalling the group’s early days of study in the COVID-19 pandemic, Self considered the relationships the class built and the lasting impact that bond will have.

“Your camaraderie and your commitment to each other will be invaluable assets for you as you enter this evolving profession,” he said. “Although we have been here to help you on your journey, your relationships with each other will sustain you as you move forward into the next phase of your journey.” 

Karl Self, Rosemary Skriver, and Jenna Johnson pose with Skriver's award

On behalf of the School of Dentistry Alumni Society, Jenna Johnson, MDT ’16, presented the Karl D Self Student Achievement Award. The award is presented each year to one senior dental therapy student in recognition of outstanding leadership, scholarship and personal character. The 2023 award was presented to Rosemary Skriver.

In lieu of remarks, the graduates produced and presented a video to attendees. The six learners reflected on their favorite memories from school, which included a pool party with hygiene classmates, birthday and special occasion celebrations, a weekend spent at a classmate’s cabin, trying new food and the everyday interactions with classmates. 

The group shared their post-graduation plans: Berget and Buerke will join Almond Dental in St. Anthony, MN. Bird will seek employment within the Twin Cities Metro area. Comeau joins Custom Smiles Dentistry in Andover, MN. Hoang will become part of Community Dental Care in Rochester, MN. Skriver plans to move to Gilbert, MN, where she will join Northern Lights Dental care. 

The learners shared their plans to enjoy a brief time of vacation and celebration post-graduation, including Hoang’s first trip to Vietnam, her home country, in six years, and Buerke’s first trip to her birthplace of Kenya since before the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared their gratitude for their time at the School of Dentistry, as well as their excitement for the future.

Finally, the class officers presented a gift to their faculty: a photo frame commemorating their class as the first accredited class to graduate from the School of Dentistry.

Learners smile as they listen to a presentation

Before the conclusion of the program, Self returned to provide advice to the outgoing learners, sharing with them the wisdom of the Chinese Bamboo Tree that remains underground for five years before growing to 90 feet in six weeks. 

Much like the tree, Self reminded learners that success does not come right away, it requires a strong foundation and it is about consistency. 

“Once you graduate, your leadership experience will likely be like that of the Chinese Bamboo Tree,” he said. “You are called to be leaders in the world of eliminating oral health disparities. Nurture your career, just as you would the tree. Consistently do the little things every day and remember that every day is a new experience, and a chance to be a lifelong learner.” 

Congratulations to the six members of the Dental Therapy Class of 2023.

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