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The sparks flew on Saturday, June 3 when the UAB School of Dentistry Class of 2023 prepared to take the next steps in their professional journey. The school honored more than 75 Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) graduates at its 71st commencement ceremony, held at UAB’s Bartow Arena.
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Many of the graduates will begin careers in private practice, while others will go on to residency programs around the country.

Three have elected to serve their country in various branches of the U.S. military. All three are recipients of the competitive Health Professions Scholarship Program from their respective branches. Entering at the rank of O-3 and following a one-year AEGD residency, each will serve a four-year commitment as a General Dentist.

Amid the commencement exercises, the three graduates were administered the oath of office during a U.S. Military Officer Commissioning. The commissioning was led by Colonel Brent S. McClenny, U.S. Air Force, Retired, and Doctor of Dental Medicine. McClenny serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences.

"Our school has a tradition of excellence and scholarly achievements,” said Dean Russell S. Taichman, D.M.D., D.M.Sc. “This year's class upholds that tradition with their outstanding academic efforts, leadership, and service. It was an honor to celebrate them today.”

Dean Taichman presided over the event, which included messages from school leaders, alumni, and state dental leadership. Among them were remarks from R. Parrish King, D.M.D., who serves as president-elect of the dental alumni association, and Adolphus M. Jackson, D.M.D., who serves as president of the Alabama Dental Association (ALDA). Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H., State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health delivered the traditional Lister Hill Lecture to the graduates.

Taichman presented the Dean’s Medal to Crystal Smith Hanson, president of the graduating class. Recognizing Hanson for representing her class with dignity and outstanding leadership, Taichman said she truly cares about the school and the welfare of her classmates and has worked to make things better, not just for this class but for the classes that follow.

In addition to Hanson, the school applauded the outstanding academic efforts, leadership, and service of more than 40 student award winners during the honors convocation portion of the ceremony. Edward Bradford, Jr., DDS, MPH, who represented the student awards committee, and Augusto Robles, DDS, MS, DMD, presented select awards on stage.

Among those, Bryna Adina Strong received the Alabama Dental Alumni Association Award for Leadership. The award is given, for outstanding leadership in school affairs, to a member of the graduating class by the upperclassmen of the student body.

Crystal Smith Hanson received the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Student Leadership Award. The award is given by the School of Dentistry faculty to a graduating student who, having demonstrated leadership qualities as a student, has the potential to become a future leader within the profession.

In a tie, the Volker Award, named for dentist, noted scientist, educator, and college administrator Dr. Joseph F. Volker, was given to Linh My Tran and Bryna Adina Strong. Volker served as the first dean of the School of Dentistry, the first president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the first chancellor of the University of Alabama System. The award is given to a graduating student who has worked for the good of the school and student body. The recipient is selected by a vote of the graduating class.

The Omicron Kappa Upsilon William S. Kramer Award of Excellence was presented to Henry Kendrick. The award recognizes a rising junior who has demonstrated scholarship, character, and the potential promise for the advancement of dentistry and service to humanity. One recipient is selected annually by the faculty members of UAB’s Phi Phi chapter.

Eight Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) dental honor society inductees were recognized. Students are elected to OKU membership based on scholarship and professional stature. Honorees were Samuel Rahn Bignault, Tessa Elise Patterson, Cameron Stone Shepherd, Bryna Adina Strong, Linh My Tran, Jeffrey Lee Vincent, and Viet Hoang Vo as well as International Dental Program (IDP) alumni member Fong Chu Tsang.

A full list of 2023 awardees is published in the commencement program.

About the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry

As one of the nation's leading dental schools, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry is celebrating 75 years of providing world-class dental education, research, and oral healthcare with a focus on shaping the future of oral health.