Loma Linda University’s School of Dentistry celebrated another milestone with the 2018 commencement of its 188 graduates. Families, friends and faculty gathered on Loma Linda University’s campus mall on Sunday, May 27 to honor the outstanding achievements of the graduates in the programs of doctor of dental surgery, dental hygiene, international dentist program and advanced education. 

Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Loma Linda University, welcomed the graduates and their families with great delight. He shared that the School of Dentistry is represented by students from 30 different countries, all embodying the same passion to continue the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus Christ.

Provost Ronald Carter presented Joseph Caruso, DDS, former interim dean of the School of Dentistry with the University Alumnus of the Year award. Caruso was honored for his more than four decades of service to the dental field as a both a professional and educator. Dean Robert Handysides, DDS, acknowledged Caruso’s achievement with a grateful hug. 

In his address, commencement speaker Kent Hansen, JD, LLD, general counsel for Loma Linda University Health and assistant professor of dental education services at the school, shared with the graduating class four ways to be a beloved professional — devote themselves to a cause bigger than themselves, live their lives with joy, give priority to family and friends and chose to put God first. 

“Do what you love and love what you do. If you are going into dentistry for the money, you will never be satisfied,” Hansen said. “There is nothing wrong with making money, but when it becomes the sole purpose, patients become no more than dollar signs, our family a hindrance, colleagues become rivals, and life becomes longer.”

He shared an inspirational quote with the class from the late actor Humphrey Bogart, reminding them that “a professional does his best even when he doesn’t feel like it.” 

Hansen encouraged all of the graduates to live life to the fullest for it is a gift and gifts are meant to be fully enjoyed. 

“Dentistry may provide your livelihood, but it is not your life,” Hansen said. “Your family and friends sustain you and they are your sanctuary, energy and rest.” 

During the ceremony, Dean Handysides presented two faculty members with distinguished awards.

Mathew T. Kattadiyil, BDS, MDS, MS, Distinguished Research Award: Kattadiyil’s interest in research began early in his career as he mentored graduate students and participated in over 20 thesis committees as chair or member. His research has yielded 59 scientific articles and books addressing a variety of topics, including dental implants, digital technology, restoration and much more. Kattadiyil currently serves as the director of advanced specialty education program in prosthodontics at the School of Dentistry and was honored for his contributions to the dental profession in the field of prosthodontics and implant dentistry. 

D. Graham Stacey, MS, MA, PhD., Distinguished Faculty Service Award: Stacey began his educational journey at Loma Linda University in 1984 and earned his doctoral degree 15 years later. In 2008, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry recruited Stacey while he was living in Australia and teaching at Avondale College in New South Wales. Multitalented and committed to service, Stacey has taught predoctoral and postdoctoral classes, in addition to serving on varies committees for the School of Dentistry. 

On Friday, May 25, the School of Dentistry celebrated its award and hooding ceremony at the University Church. Awards were presented to students who excelled in service, wholeness and academics. Alison Perez was awarded the President’s Award by Hart in recognition of her excellent academic and leadership performance and community engagement with the School of Dentistry. Following the award ceremony, each student was called to the stage where they received their doctoral honor chord.

Congratulations to the School of Dentistry class of 2018. 

—This story is part of our comprehensive coverage of Loma Linda University's 2018 Commencement. View more Commencement coverage.