Sixteen international dentists join highly-educated PASS cohort

Infographic depicts gender: 25% male, 75% female

The School of Dentistry welcomed 16 new learners to the Program for Advanced Standing Students this January, comprising the class of 2024. 

The Program for Advanced Standing Students, or PASS, is a 29-month program designed for graduates of dental schools outside the United States and Canada who have moved to the United States and want to practice dentistry within the U.S. 

Infographic depicts advanced degrees received in the US or Canada: 25% MPH,18.8% MS, 6.3% PhD, 50% none

This year’s class of learners includes six with dental degrees from India and one student each with degrees in Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria and Ukraine.

The class includes ten learners of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, two who are Hispanic or Latinx and four who are Caucasian. The class includes twelve women and four men. They range in age from 24 to 41, with an average age of 32.

Infographic depicts average TOEFL score of 104, range 94-115, and average GPA of 3.26, range 2.09-3.89

With half of the class holding advanced degrees other than their dental degree, the class becomes one of the most highly-educated in the program’s history. 

Preet Kanwal Dhaliwal, who studied dentistry and specialized in periodontology in India, knew the University of Minnesota was right for her when she attended a webinar while applying to schools. She remembered hearing Ranier Adarve, DMD, MHPE, director of the PASS program, assert that “the University of Minnesota is where discoveries happen. The other universities are mere recipients of those discoveries.” Dhaliwal said that got “stuck in my head.” It helped that her family has lived in Minneapolis for a while and loved it. 

Infographic depicts average age of 32, age range 24-41

Now that she’s here, Dhaliwal is excited to learn more about dentistry and is keeping an open mind as she seeks licensure. “I am thinking of myself as a freshman,” she said. “It is fascinating to study under world-renowned faculty at the School of Dentistry.” She hopes to dive more deeply into her understanding of operative dentistry, endodontics and prosthodontics. “I feel there is a lot of room for me to enhance my knowledge and clinical skills in these fields.”

Preet Kanwal Dhaliwal

When she’s not studying, Dhaliwal loves interior design, landscaping, ceramic collections and exploring jazz bars. “So now,” she said, “you know who to contact if you need suggestions in doing your home decor!”

Samuel Samaroo also came to Minnesota for the School of Dentistry, after getting degrees in pharmacy and dentistry at the University of Guyana. “I felt at home in Minnesota,” Samaroo said, reflecting on how it reminded him of Canada, where he’s lived for the past five years. 

Even more than the state, which both he and his wife fell in love with, the School of Dentistry “captured all the benchmarks I looked for” in a licensing program: training, world-class facilities and role models. In particular, he appreciates Adarve’s leadership, passion and enthusiasm. 

Samuel Samaroo headshot
Samuel Samaroo

As he continues his studies, Samaroo is looking forward to finding new ways of doing things and participating in outreach. Most of all, though, he’s interested in “being a role model for my daughters.” 

That’s indicative of Samaroo’s outlook on life. For Samaroo, family is everything: his daughters and his wife inspire him to be an excellent clinician and an even better father. When he’s not studying, he’s either working on completing a book he wrote during the COVID-19 lockdown, or spending time with his family. “I’m usually having my nails painted or makeup done by my three-year-old,” he said. “My kids are my world.”

Dhaliwal and Samaroo represent two of the sixteen dedicated professional learners starting their studies this year. We welcome the incoming PASS class and wish them the best of luck in their studies!