Five women from the Class of 2025 standing together wearing their white coats and face masks

“You Belong Here”: Class of 2025 Joins Dental School “Family”

September 1, 2021

The 84 women and men of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine’s incoming class gathered on Aug. 20 for the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony, the formal launch of their dental education.

The event welcomes new students and delineates the responsibilities of a health care professional. During the ceremony, each student ascends the stage and slides on an embroidered white coat with the assistance of a faculty member. When the donning is complete, the class reads the Oath for the Profession, committing to compassionate and ethical care.

Members of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) community often refer to themselves collectively as a family because of the school’s tight-knit environment. At this year’s ceremony, a typically warm welcome to the CDM family took on added emphasis: Inclusivity was a salient motif in speaker remarks, underscored on several occasions with the affirmation “You belong here.”

Two students giving elbow bumps to faculty members after donning their white coats

Students exchange elbow bumps with faculty (photos: Charles Manley)

Because of the pandemic, in-person attendance was limited to ceremony participants, with family and friends joining virtually via a live broadcast. As students departed from the stage in their fresh white coats, they traded elbow bumps with faculty, the joy on their faces evident even behind masks.

“It’s an exciting time for you to be starting,” Dana Wolf, DMD, MS, senior associate dean for predoctoral academic and student affairs, told the class. “The past year and a half has been extremely difficult. But we have emerged with some positive lessons, and you will be the beneficiaries of those lessons.

“We learned, for example, that the remote learning environment offers opportunities for student engagement that were difficult to achieve in large in-person classroom settings. We will continue to utilize these new engaging pedagogic techniques post-pandemic.

Students wearing white coats in staggered seating holding event booklets

The Class of 2025 reads the Oath for the Profession

“We learned that we need to renew and deepen our commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. And we have taken a variety of measures here at CDM to do so.

“We learned how strong we can be when we come together as a community.…

“Class of 2025, you have a dynamic and challenging four years ahead of you. Throughout your educational journey, CDM faculty, staff, upperclassmen, and administration will be by your side encouraging you, supporting you, and cheering you on. Take advantage of all that CDM has to offer because time goes by quickly, and before you know it, we’ll be gathering again to celebrate your academic achievements at the 2025 graduation ceremony.”

About the CDM Class of 2025

The 84 students enrolled were chosen from more than 1,600 applicants.

The class is 55% women and 45% men.

A quarter of the students belong to underrepresented minority groups.

Seven students participated in the Summer Health Professions Enrichment Program.

Class members are from 21 U.S. states and two other countries.

Class members are alumni of 63 different colleges.

Five students have advanced degrees.