From Zoom Screens to a Graduation March

Touro College of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2024 Celebrates Commencement

June 25, 2024

For the Touro College of Dental Medicine’s class of 2024, school began in bedrooms on zoom screens. On May 22, dental school ended in a triumphant march to the stage of Purchase College’s Performing Arts Center as— surrounded by jubilant friends and family members—the 115 class members received their Doctor of Dental Surgery diplomas.

Reflecting on the travails the students encountered, during his address class president David Brock told his peers that, “These experiences, though difficult, have shaped us into the competent, passionate dental professionals we are today.”

The point was echoed in remarks delivered by Touro President Dr. Alan Kadish, who noted that while the pandemic is in the past, the new dentists will be facing the aftershocks, which include the “increasing divisiveness of American society.”  

“Our relationships with our patients can never be poisoned by their attitudes,” said Dr. Kadish to the audience. “We must treat everyone equally and with respect… I’m extraordinarily proud given what we’ve been through. I think we’re better equipped to meet these challenges in the future. We expect great things from you.”

Even before the difficulties of dental school, students faced a competitive challenge to join the class. TCDM Dean Dr. Ronnie Myers noted that the school, the first new dental school to open in New York in 100 years, received close to 2500 applicants for the 115 spots.

“You have much to be proud of,” Dean Myers told the audience. “You have put in many community hours; provided oral health care to the population of the Lower Hudson Valley, attained a 100% pass rate on the Integrated National Board; and have been accepted into some of the most prestigious residency and specialty programs in the country.”

The day’s festivities began with an award ceremony for members of the class.

Brother and sister duo Jawad and Deema Tamimi kept each other company during their four years of dental school. “It’s been both a long and a great journey,” said Deema. “We pushed each other along.”

“It was tough being virtual for close to the first two years,” said Jawad who will spend the next three years in prosthodontic residency in the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine. “In some ways, we’re the forgotten class. But I think we made a name for ourselves and I’m excited to pursue a career of dentistry with my fellow classmates,”

“I’m sad but excited to start a new chapter in my life,” said Yasmin Shohrian. “I want to take all the knowledge, skills, and passion I gained in dental school in pursuit of my career as a general practice dentist. I’m grateful for the friends I made and the relationships I had with the faculty.”

Prabha Krishnan, DDS, the president-elect of the New York State Dental Association, delivered the commencement address. “Be fearless, innovative and never stop striving to leave a mark in the dental field,” she said. “Because of you, dentistry has a bright future… Healthy smiles are evidence of the impact we have.”

Awards Given to Members of the Class

Below is a full list of the awards given to members of the class of 2024.

International College of Dentists Student Leadership Award - USA Section: Rachel Martina Sebastian
Dr. Jeanne C. Sinkford Student Leadership Award: Brian S. Alvarez

Touro College of Dental Medicine Rabbi Lander Humanitarian Award Ezgi Kiyici

Touro College of Dental Medicine Community Service Award: Andrew Lin

American Association of Women Dentists Eleanor J. Bushee Senior Dental Student Award: Rachel Martina Sebastian

New York Academy of Dentistry Annual Student Ethics and Professionalism Award: Meilech Simche Sonenblick

Clinical Excellence Awards

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Implant Dentistry: Polina Gomer Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Dental Patients with Special Needs: Daniel Joseph Brock

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Orthodontics: Haley Shapiro American Association of Orthodontics Academic Excellence Award: Melina Pakkhesal

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Endodontics: Zhehan Li

New York State Association of Endodontists Student Achievement Award: Chase Schoener

The American Association of Endodontists Award: Meilech Simche Sonenblick

Jay Goldsmith Award for Excellence in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Daniel Joseph Brock

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Implant Student Award: Mullar Ibrahim Zakher

Academy of Laser Dentistry Student Award: Wiam Ismail

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Digital Dentistry: Arie Barkats

The Academy of Operative Dentistry Student Award: Luke Patrick Whelan

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Prosthodontics: George Nassif

The American Prosthodontic Society Student of Merit Award: Jawad Tamimi

The American Academy of Periodontology Student Award: Xinyuan Yang

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Dental Anesthesiology: Anish Cheriyan

American Academy of Orofacial Pain Outstanding Senior Award: Daniela Bar-Levav

American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Horace Wells Senior Award: Christopher Louis Arens

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Pathology: Meilech Simche Soneblick

The American Academy of Oral Medicine Certificate of Merit: Daniel O. Sayegh

American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Dental Student Award: Benjamin Rahim Farnad

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Dental Radiology: Xinyuan Yang

The American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Achievement Award: Eisen Patrick Pueyo Villaluna

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Pediatric Dentistry: Talia Hinda Levie

AAPD Certificate of Merit Predoctoral Student Award: Anish Cheriyan

The Pierre Fauchard Academy For Outstanding Academic Achievements: Paige Labelle

American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) Dental Student Recognition Award for Achievement in Community Dentistry and Dental Public Health: Daniela Bar-Levav

Dental Lifeline: Brian D. Stone Memorial Award: Jonathan Leonardo Espinosa

Touro College of Dental Medicine Award for Excellence in Research: Rachel Martina Sebastian