Sixteen international learners join DDS Class of 2026

International class group photo

Sixteen learners joined the DDS Class of 2026 this January as part of the Program for Advanced Standing Students.

UMN PASS is a 29-month integrated program for graduates of dental schools outside the United States and Canada. Graduates earn their DDS to practice general dentistry in the United States. 

PASS Class of 2026 graphic

This year’s incoming cohort includes nine women and seven men, hailing from 13 countries: China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sudan, Venezuela and the United States. The group is 87% ethnically diverse.

Fifty-three percent of students have an advanced degree, the most of an incoming PASS cohort. These degrees include one diploma in dental office leadership, a diploma in oral surgery, four Masters of Public Health, a Master of Advanced Dental Sciences and a residency training in endodontics.

PASS Class of 2026 graphic

The class has an average age of 33, ranging from age 26 to 41. Their average TOEFL score is 105, with a range of 97-112, and their average GPA in dental school was 3.17, with a range of 2.08-4.0.

Inayat Bachelani hails from Kenya and completed her dental education in Russia before coming to the United States. 

Inayat Bachelani headshot

“Coming to the United States, I couldn’t help but notice the challenges within the healthcare industry,” she reflected. Working in the emergency room and in orthopedics “opened my passion for public health,” which encouraged her to complete a Master of Public Health. 

“I am very passionate about dental public health and feel that there is an extensive disconnect between the dental world and the medical world,” she explained. After witnessing that disconnect in each country in which she has lived, Bachelani looks forward to bridging the gap between oral and overall health. “I see myself bridging the disconnect to help change the perception of dentistry,” she explained.

Having received an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, Bachelani knew that the School of Dentistry was the right place for her to continue her studies. “The University of Minnesota is known for its wide research at the national level, and has had some awesome innovative procedures that advanced the healthcare world.” 

In her studies, Bachelani looks forward to exploring new technology and revisiting the community she formed during her undergraduate studies here. 

Tony Makary joins the class from Lebanon, where he graduated from Lebanese University and specialized in Oral Surgery at Beirut Arab University. He owned his own clinic in Batroun for five years, before moving to Cleveland with his wife last year.

Tony Makary headshot

“Dentistry combines various disciplines: it involves medicine, art, aesthetics, mechanics and digital technology,” he said “Reflecting on my five years practicing in Lebanon, I’ve come to appreciate a crucial aspect that I hadn’t fully realized when I chose this path: patient care. Dentistry grants me the opportunity to offer long-term care to patients, allowing me to become a meaningful part of their lives.” 

It was during that time practicing that Makary first heard about Minnesota, from patients visiting on vacation—and knowing that a community of others from his hometown now live in Minneapolis helped the decision. Once he met Rachel Katkar, executive operations and student services specialist for UMN PASS, he knew the University of Minnesota was right for him. “Her unwavering support, prompt responses to my queries and seamless assistance made the entire process incredibly smooth,” he recalled. 

Meeting additional individuals along the way confirmed what he saw in Katkar “I felt like the University of Minnesota was a place where I’d be surrounded by like-minded individuals,” he said. “The genuine warmth and camaraderie I sensed reinforced my belief that it’s an environment where I could thrive and contribute positively.” 

As he begins to study with the Class of 2026, Makary looks forward to making connections that mirror those he made in dental school in Lebanon. “When I think back to those times, what sticks out are the real, heartwarming moments: the laughs, the victories and even the hiccups that turned into valuable lessons,” he said. “I’m genuinely looking forward to reliving those experiences, and the wonderful journey ahead of me at the University of Minnesota.”