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Convocation: The Class of 2016 takes flight

Posted by Cheryl Bell on June 15, 2016 in News
Dentistry class of 2016

It was a week of dinners, awards, photographs, speeches, and many, many messages of congratulations. “Each of you has the potential within you,” said President Richard Florizone, as he addressed the dentistry and dental hygiene classes during their convocation ceremony on June 2. “How will you choose to shine in the world?”

The Class of 2016, comprising 40 DDH and 46 DDS students, walked across the stage of the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium – many with their children at their sides – to claim their diplomas and degrees.  For Erin Nowe of Oakfield, NS, it was a particularly big day: she was awarded the Dr. D. S. Precious University Medal in Dentistry.

It was also a big day for Drs. Asile (DDS ’08) and Asraa (DDS ’13) El-Darahali, who gave the convocation address. Both Dalhousie dentistry graduates, they volunteered at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan last autumn and were able to share with this year’s class their appreciation for the skills they had gained through their studies and the lessons they had learned. “As graduates, Dalhousie University has equipped each and every one of us with the knowledge and skills to excel at our chosen profession,” they said. It was this knowledge and skills that enabled them to offer relief to patients in the camp using limited equipment and supplies.

They also shared their commitment to sharing that “special skill set that is unique from the general population” with the underprivileged in local communities and abroad. “As health care professionals, we are committed to improve the health and well-being of our patients,” they said, “but we also have a social responsibility to our community as professionals and as individuals.”

Social responsibility was clearly on the minds of the DDH class of 2016. At their graduation dinner on June 2, they presented two cheques, of $1000 each, to support the work of the Harbour View Clinic and the North End Community Health Clinic. It was, said dental hygiene professor Kim Haslam, “one of the most unselfish acts I have ever seen at a graduation dinner.”

In his valedictory address, Ryan MacKinnon thanked family and friends for their support and said to faculty members, “You took all of us under your wings and imparted your wisdom. If we remember even half of what each of you taught us, I know we’ll be okay.”

Asile and Asraa El-Darahali used similar words to express their gratitude to faculty: “From the moment we were students under their wings and after we set flight as professional, we were always made to feel as part of a family. Thank you.”

In addition to Erin Nowe, major DDS award-winners included Sara Moore, Lee Sample, Laura Rose MacDonald, and Ebrahim Kiani Moghadam. Kayla Cyr claimed top honours in the DH class, with Kaitlin Nickerson and Victoria Parsons also winning multiple awards.