Dentistry Personal Statement 2012 Presidential Candidates

Dr. Michael Kowolik and Dean John Williams congratulate periodontics master's degree recipient Dr. Jason Au-Yeung

A new dental school reception for graduates and their families, a commencement address by the United States Navy’s top dental officer, and recognition of 224 members of the graduating classes were the highlights of Indiana University School of Dentistry’s 2012 two-day graduation celebration, held in Indianapolis May 12-13.

On Saturday, dental dean Dr. John N. Williams, Jr., hosted the first pre-graduation reception to be held at the school, giving IU’s dental faculty and staff an opportunity to meet the graduates’ families and friends, and giving the graduates a chance to show their guests the dental building, where students devote anywhere from one to eight years in pursuit of degrees and certificates in dentistry.

The graduates included 100 students enrolled in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program as well as 29 in dental assisting, 45 in dental hygiene, 11 in public health dental hygiene, and 39 in a variety of advanced dental programs.

The IU dental school’s classes of 2012 represent young professionals from 24 U.S. states and 15 countries. A total of 156 graduates are from Indiana hometowns, 49 come from other states in the U.S., and 19 are from other nations.

After the dental school reception the graduation party moved downtown to the Indiana Convention Center for the dental school’s pre-commencement ceremony.

Joining Dean Williams on the program was Charles R. Bantz, Ph.D., chancellor of IUPUI and executive vice president of Indiana University.

Rear Admiral Elaine C. Wagner, chief of the U.S. Navy Dental Corps, was invited back to her alma mater to give Dentistry’s pre-commencement address. Admiral Wagner, who also commands the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., is a 1980 graduate of IU’s dental program and a 1982 graduate of IU’s pediatric dentistry program.

She wove her address around the theme of trust and the importance of each dental school graduate developing trust as a team leader, not only in one’s profession but also in one’s community, one’s country, and in all aspects of one’s life. “Trust is the one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world,” she said. She challenged the graduates to become adept at establishing, extending – and, if necessary, restoring – trust, and to build their lives around others who are trustworthy.

At the close of her address, Admiral Wagner swore in two of the school’s dental graduates as lieutenants in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps: Mark Anderko and Matthew R. Kanter.

Four of the graduates gave farewell remarks on behalf of their classes: Chelsee N. Ehrhardt, dental assisting president; Cari B. Willingham, dental hygiene president; Ali S. Sajadi, dentistry president; and Dr. Nawaf Y. Labban, Advanced Graduate Organization president.

Each graduate crossed the stage to receive his or her diploma or certificate, and graduates receiving the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree went through an additional hooding ceremony. Dental graduates were given the choice of being hooded by either an IU professor or a member of their own family holding a doctoral degree. Faculty members participating in the hooding were Drs. Steven E. Dixon, Vanchit John, Philip C. Rake, and Trevor E. Treasure.

Saturday’s pre-commencement was complemented on Sunday by a dental graduation awards program and breakfast, also held at the convention center. More than 100 honors and awards were bestowed on 53 students, including 17 men and women who were inducted at a previous ceremony into the national honor societies for Dentistry and Dental Hygiene.

From there, the graduates moved to the convention center’s main auditorium for IUPUI’s commencement, which celebrated the efforts of more than 6,500 IUPUI graduates who completed their studies in 2012.

Indiana University School of Dentistry2012 Graduation Honors and Awards


Candidates, Associate of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene

Highest Distinction
Morgan M. Flook
Chassi M. Lecher

High Distinction
BreAnn E. Thornburg
Kristen M. Fahringer

Cari B. Willingham

Candidates, Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree

Highest Distinction
Amanda F. Kot

High Distinction
Diana C. Wu
Jonathan M. Dingeldein
Shellie A. Steffen
Katherine M. Hungate
Christopher W. Painton
Katarzyna Pycinska
Brian P. LaBlonde
Katie E. Wolz
Timothy J. Zigler

Theta Chapter, Sigma Phi Alpha Dental Hygiene Honor Society Alumni
Morgan M. Flook
Chassi M. Lecher
BreAnn E. Thornburg
Samantha N. Turner
Cari B. Willingham

Theta Theta Chapter, Omicron Kappa UpsilonDental Honor Society Alumni
Lesa M. Allison
Jayme L. Beadle
Jonathan M. Dingeldein
Keith J. Harrison
Katherine M. Hungate
Amanda F. Kot *
Daniel P. O’Callaghan
Christopher W. Painton
Shellie A. Steffen
Katie E. Wolz
Diana C. Wu
Timothy J. Zigler
*OKU Outstanding Student


Rosemary L. Burskey
• Academic Achievement Award
• Procter & Gamble Best Clinician Award

Danielle J.-N. Tanner
• Clinical Achievement Award

Lauren M. Abbott
• Indiana University School of Dentistry Alumni Association Harriett F. Hine Award

Morgan M. Flook
• Rossya Kaufman Memorial Award

Ashantae B. Geringer
• Northeast Regional Board Scholarship

Kelsey L. Goodman
• A. Rebekah Fisk Memorial Award of the Indiana Dental Hygienists’ Association

Jennifer L. Iannotti
• Johnson Public Health Scholarship Award

Chassi M. Lecher
• Rossya Kaufman Memorial Award
• Dr. Tillman E. Miller Clinical Achievement Award in Dental Hygiene, 2nd place

Matti K. Lynn
• Johnson & Johnson Professional Excellence Award

Michelle K. Mogg
• American Association of Public Health Dentistry Award

Kaitlyn E. Moody
• Procter & Gamble Prevention Award

Melanie D. Smith
• Johnson Public Health Scholarship
• Colgate S.T.A.R. Award
• Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association Leadership Award

Michelle Soriano
• Hu-Friedy Award

Cari B. Willingham
• Dr. Tillman E. Miller Clinical Achievement Award in Dental Hygiene, 1st place

Joseph B. Adams
• American Association of Endodontists Student Achievement Award

Lesa M. Allison
• American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry Award
• James E. Humphrey, D.D.S. Memorial Scholarship Award

Jason A. Bayless
• Russell Winfield Lehman DDS Scholarship Award
• American College of Prosthodontists Award

Ross T. Bowen
• Indianapolis General Dentistry Study Club Award

Devanshu Chowdhary
• Indiana Society of Periodontists Award

Christopher M. Cummings
• American Academy of Periodontology Award
• American Student Dental Association Award
• Indiana Dental Association Award

Kara M. Czarkowski
• American Association of Oral Biologists Award

Jenna M. Davies
• James E. Humphrey, D.D.S. Memorial Scholarship Award

Darren M. Dean
• American Academy of Oral Medicine Certificate of Merit and Award

Jonathan M. Dingeldein
• Quintessence Publishing Company Award in Restorative Dentistry
• Whip Mix Hanau Best of the Best Prosthodontics Award

Chris S. Ha
• James L. Maus Memorial Scholarship Award

Keith J. Harrison
• American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Horace Wells Award

Katherine M. Hungate
• American Association of Orthodontists Award
• American College of Dentists Outstanding Student Leader Award

Olga Isyutina
• American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Award
• Research Honors Program—Certificate of Achievement

John P. Jansen
• Quintessence Publishing Company Award in Research

Brett Jones
• Dr. Charles E. and Janice B. Kem Award

Matthew R. Kanter
• Northeast Regional Board Scholarship

Patrick S. Kelly
• Glenn J. Pell Award
• American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Award
• Dental Lifeline Network Outstanding Student Award

Amanda F. Kot
• Alpha Omega Scholarship Award
• DENTSPLY Merit Award in Removable Prosthodontics
• John F. Johnston Award
• IU School of Dentistry’s Outstanding Student (presented at the IUPUI Chancellor’s Academic Honors Convocation)

Brian P. LaBlonde
• Academy of Operative Dentistry Award

Kevin H. Ludwig
• American Equilibration Society Achievement Award
• Indiana University School of Dentistry Alumni Association Maynard K. Hine Award

Jeremy I. Matis
• Certificate of Merit, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Award

Jeffrey M. McQuinn
• American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Implant Award
• Academy of Osseointegration Outstanding Dental Student in Implant Dentistry Award
• Academy of General Dentistry Award

Patrick M. Murray
• International Congress of Oral Implantologists/Sullivan Schein Dental Achievement Award
• American Academy of Implant Dentistry Award

Daniel P. O’Callaghan
• Indiana Society of Pediatric Dentistry Award

Christopher W. Painton
• Quintessence Publishing Company Award in Periodontics

Katarzyna Pycinska
• Academy of Dental Materials Award

Ali S. Sajadi
• International College of Dentists Student Leadership Award

Kurush Savabi
• American Academy of Gold Foil Operators Award
• American Academy of Craniofacial Pain Award
• American Academy of Orofacial Pain – Outstanding Senior Award

Stephanie L. So
• American Association of Public Health Dentistry Award
• Delta Dental Fund Student Leadership Award

Shellie A. Steffen
• American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Award

Eric J. Westergard
• Pierre Fauchard Academy Award

Diana C. Wu
• American Association of Women Dentists Eleanor J. Bushee Award
• Research Honors Program—Certificate of Achievement

Timothy J. Zigler
• Dr. Tillman E. Miller Clinical Achievement Award in Dentistry
• Academy of General Dentistry Award

May 14, 2012

What is the class size? When is the best time to apply?

The class size is 60, but will ultimately increase to 70 over the next few years. Candidates can begin applying in June by completing their AADSAS application and should complete their application no later than December 15th of the year prior to the year the candidates plan to enter dental school.

When is the best time to schedule a visit to Meharry?

Meharry offers tours of the college campus year-round for groups and individuals. Campus tours for individuals or groups of fewer than 5 people can schedule tours only on Fridays at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. Candidates may call 615.327.6223 to schedule a tour. However, a specific visit to the School of Dentistry should be scheduled between May 1 and September 15 to avoid conflicts with campus interviews. Call 615.327.6741 to schedule a visit to the School of Dentistry.

Are community college courses acceptable? What about online courses?

Community college courses are acceptable; however, the prerequisite, upper-level basic science courses (organic chemistry and biochemistry) and the recommended courses— microbiology, anatomy, physiology and cell biology—should be taken at an accredited four-year college or university.

How important is the personal statement?

The personal statement is very important and is carefully reviewed. Candidates should spend time writing their personal statements—writing error-free essays without redundancy, run-on sentences, clichés, embellishments, fancy words, and spelling errors—and avoid inserting their own names in the text.

When should I take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)? What scores on the DAT are considered competitive?

Candidates should take the DAT only after preparing for it—not “just for practice,” as candidates are allowed to take the DAT a maximum of three times.


Preparation and review should be on-going, beginning after completing the first year of college Biology and Chemistry. The latest date candidates should take the DAT the first time is August 1 the year prior to the year they plan to enroll in dental school.


Meharry recommends receiving a DAT Academic Average score of at least 17 and Total Science score of 17 in order to be a competitive candidate.

Is an interview required of all applicants? Who will interview me?

Yes, an interview is required. All candidates invited for an interview will receive two interviews from: Meharry Medical College basic science faculty, Meharry School of Dentistry faculty (active and retired), Meharry School of Dentistry alumni or dentists from the Nashville community.

How should I dress for the interview?

Candidates should dress in professional business attire:

  • Men—suit or sports jacket with a tie
  • Women—a solid blouse and suit (pants suit, or a jacket with knee-length skirt, heels or pumps no higher than three inches)

When will I be notified of acceptance?

By agreement, all dental schools affiliated with AADSAS have agreed to initially notify candidates of acceptance on December 1st. After December 1st, acceptances are ongoing with the goal of making final decisions by April 1 prior to matriculation.

How are candidates selected to fill the class?

Candidates are selected based upon academic performance in undergraduate and graduate studies, MCAT scores, personal characteristics, awareness of the medical profession, leadership experience, community service, and potential for success in medical school as expressed in the letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

If I am not admitted and decide to re-apply, how can I become a more competitive applicant?

Candidates re-applying to dental school after having been denied admission should have demonstrated significant improvements in their applications since their previous applications were submitted. These improvements may include:


Additional coursework in the basic sciences (especially graduate level basic science coursework)

  • Improved DAT score
  • Shadowing
  • Community service
  • At least one (1) new letter of recommendation

Can I transfer from another dental school to the Meharry School of Dentistry?

The Meharry School of Dentistry will consider transfer requests from an enrolled dental school student only after the second year of dental school.


The transfer process will take a significant amount of time, and the applicant should submit the request to transfer in writing to the Office of Admissions & Recruitment, along with an $800.00 application fee.

  • $500.00 of the application fee will be applied to the transfer student’s tuition and fees if the transfer is approved.
  • $300.00 of the application fee is non-refundable.
  • Transfer requests must be made no later than December 1 of the year prior to matriculation to the Meharry School of Dentistry.


The following policies apply to dental student requests for transfer:

  • Transfer students must be reviewed and accepted by the Admissions Committee. There must be a space available in the class to which the transfer student is requesting admission. The recommendation for transfer must then be approved by the Dean.
  • A transfer student can be accepted only at the end of his/her second year in dental school, and must be in good academic standing. He/she must also have taken and received a score on the National Dental Board Examination, Part 1 of at least 80.
  • The Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs will assess the comparability of curricula between the Meharry School of Dentistry and the transferring institution and shall seek approval of all coursework for from course directors regarding the acceptability of coursework form the transferring institution.No courses will be accepted with a grade of D, F, N, nor I.
  • The transfer student must submit copies of official transcripts to the Meharry Medical College Director of Admissions & Recruitment prior to matriculation to the Meharry School of Dentistry.
  • The transfer student must be evaluated by the preclinical course directors prior to entering into comprehensive patient care.

Does Meharry have a Ph.D./D.D.S. Degree Program?

Yes. The Ph.D./D.D.S. Program is designed to prepare outstanding clinical and research professionals who are capable of identifying and addressing significant problems in oral health. The Ph.D. adds three to four years to the D.D.S. education so that a student will graduate with both degrees in seven to eight years.


Candidates must first be admitted to the Meharry School of Dentistry and then express his/her interest in writing to the Dean of the Meharry School of Dentistry. After an interview with the Dean, the Dean will recommend a candidate to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Students must also apply to the Graduate School for Admission and must take the GRE in addition to the DAT. Click here to review the Graduate School’s admission requirements.

What do Meharry dental graduates pursue after graduation?

Dental school graduates have a variety of career choices. Many dental graduates go to graduate school for additional or specialized training; many graduates work in the military or in community health centers to work off student scholarships or accrued student loans; and many go to work in a private practice.


The post-graduate programs for the DDS class of 2012 are distributed as follows:

Private Practice or Military:


Private Practice or Military:


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