Incoming PASS learners bring excitement and enthusiasm to the Class of 2025
Sixteen international dentists will join the DDS Class of 2025 through the Program for Advanced Standing Students (PASS) this semester.
Learners joining PASS have received their dental degree in another country and are seeking licensure in the United States. They will undergo an intensive 29-month program, integrated with traditional DDS learners.
The sixteen incoming learners include ten women and six men. They range in age from 25 to 46, with an average age of 34. The learners are a diverse group, with eight students who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC).
These dentists join the School of Dentistry from across the world, with three each hailing from India and Ukraine, two from Nigeria, two from the United States and one each from Algeria, Brazil, Peru, Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic and Taiwan. They received their dental degrees in ten countries, including India, Ukraine and the Syrian Arab Republic.
The class boasts an average GPA of 3.03 and an average TOEFL of 103. Half the learners hold an advanced degree, including certificates, fellowships and master’s degrees in dental specialties, public health and health informatics.
Adebayo Ibikunle, DDS PASS ’25, began his dental career in Nigeria, where he received his DDS at the University of Ibadan. He later specialized in oral and maxillofacial surgery before receiving a Master of Public Health.
When it came to choosing a school in the United States, he took the advice of a friend who had interviewed at the University of Minnesota the prior year. “I know you, and I know you will be a good fit for Minnesota,” Ibikunle recalled his friend saying. And his visit to the school confirmed that assertion.
“I wanted an innovative and inclusive educational institution where I could be myself, while learning from outstanding scholars and clinicians who continuously offer their best,” he said. “I was excited by the prospects of being part of the School of Dentistry. The outreach opportunities are exceptional, and the lengths the school goes to to promote diversity and accommodate underserved populations is enviable.”
Ibikunle is excited to learn while at the School of Dentistry. “Learning is living, and living is learning,” he said. He can’t wait to get started, discovering every aspect of the dental experience.
Jessie Hernandez, DDS PASS ’25, first became familiar with the University of Minnesota during her time attending dental school at the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru. Her dental school hosted an exchange program with the university, and while she did not attend while in school, it piqued her interest.
When she decided to continue her studies in the United States, she saw choosing a school much like “solving a puzzle containing the dozens of variables that could change the course of my life.” She prioritized two puzzle pieces: finding an excellent educational program that would prepare her for the future, and seeking out an environment that would make her feel supported.
“After extensive research, I discovered that the School of Dentistry highly values diversity, provides an exceptional level of clinical education and prioritizes community outreach and services,” she said. “When I visited, I immediately felt that it was where I wanted to further my dental education.”
Hernandez looks forward to working with faculty, strengthening her hand skills and participating in outreach. She also hopes to become involved in leadership and has her sights set on professional organizations. “I am excited about all of the possibilities that exist for me in the program,” she said.
Hernandez, Ibikunle and their classmates underwent orientation last week and join the DDS Class of 2025 this semester. Learn more about PASS at the University of Minnesota.