School of Dentistry celebrates 198 graduates

Dean Keith Mays poses for a selfie with graduating students

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry celebrated its 2022 commencement ceremony on May 13, 2022 at Northrop Auditorium.

With friends and family in attendance, the school honored 123 Doctor of Dental Surgery graduates, 26 Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene graduates, 8 Master of Dental Therapy graduates, 36 candidates for advanced education in dentistry, four candidates for the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene and one graduate student in oral biology.

Candidates for graduation were led into the ceremony by Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, and Century Club Professor of the Year Paul Olin, DDS, MS, who acted as mace bearer for the event. Graduates wore regalia that was gifted to them by alumni, thanks to the continuation of the 20-year Cap and Gown Fund tradition. Donors support students by funding the purchase of their regalia as a way of welcoming them into the profession.

Dean Mays speaks at graduation

“Today is a day of celebration for many reasons,” reflected Dean Mays as he welcomed attendees of the ceremony. “We celebrate the accomplishments of these scholars and graduates. We celebrate all of you who have supported them through their education.”

Headlining the celebration was keynote speaker and alumna Amber Cziok, DDS ’06. Cziok is a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, a Fellow of the American College of Dentistry and the president of the Minnesota Dental Association. She serves as a delegate for the 10th District to the American Dental Association House of Delegates and has been a member of the Board of the Minnesota Dental Foundation since 2009. Cziok received the MDA’s New Dentist Award in 2014 and President Award in 2018. She practices general dentistry in Litchfield, MN, and has volunteered with the Dental Lifeline Network and the Minnesota Mission of Mercy,as well as other charitable programs, since her graduation.

Amber Cziok speaks at graduation
Amber Cziok, DDS '06, keynote speaker

Cziok insisted that she is not, in fact, too different from the group of graduates among her. “I am you, plus sixteen years,” she said.

She focused her speech on change—first honoring the Class of 2022’s resilience amid change. “Those of us in health care and science understand that minds and medical communities have probably never worked faster and more cohesively in our lifetime” than throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “In an instant, how you were educated changed, but the expectations remained.”

Cziok reflected on the role of change in her own life, and in that of the graduates. “If you think back on your life, most of you will recognize the milestone life changes,” she said. “If you think about your strongest memories, they often center around a significant change. Today is another milestone change.”

“You will change people, and people will change you,” Cziok told the graduates, sharing how patients have impacted her throughout her career, and how she’s impacted them in turn. 

“I encourage you to strive to propagate positive change in this world, and give of your time and talents through your chosen discipline, professional involvement and everyday life.”

We offer our congratulations to the School of Dentistry’s newest alumni in the DDS, Dental Hygiene, Dental Therapy, advanced education and oral biology programs.

Click on the photo below to view all images from Friday's ceremony.