When the College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center graduated its 2018 class of 113 new dentists and dental hygienists on Thursday, one of its most distinguished alums returned for a special ceremony to recognize those joining the military services.
Colonel Tom Goksel, commander of the dental corps of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and an alumnus of the College of Dentistry, was on hand to induct five members of the graduating class into their branches of service. A College of Dentistry faculty member with service experience stood beside each to symbolize passing the torch of service to the country.
Dr. Goksel is a 1992 graduate of the College of Dentistry. He went on to receive an MD degree and is a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and board certified cosmetic surgeon. The recipient of many service honors, including the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he is authorized by the Department of Defense to administer the Military Uniformed Services Oath of Office to all branches of service.
Interim Dean J. Stansill Covington, DDS, MS, FRSM (London), invited Dr. Goksel to preside at the induction service, after a visit with the colonel earlier this year. The induction ceremony was a first for the College of Dentistry.
Those inducted were:
- Shelly Gareiss, DDS, class president, entering the United States Navy, accompanied by Larry Weeda, DDS, captain, dental corps, U.S. Navy, Retired, professor and chair, oral and maxillofacial surgery.
- Austin Johnson, DDS, entering the U.S. Army, accompanied by Robert W. Smith, DDS, colonel, dental corps, U.S. Army, Retired, assistant professor.
- Jessie Gregg, DDS, entering the U.S. Army, accompanied by Alka Cohen, DDS, MS, colonel, dental corps, U.S. Army, Retired, associate professor, pediatric dentistry and community oral health.
- John Wilson, DDS, entering the U.S. Army, accompanied by Love Collins III, MBA, 1st lieutenant, 197th Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army, Honorably Discharged. Collins is the vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs at UTHSC and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
- Corey Hill, DDS, entering the U.S. Navy, accompanied by Jay Ragain, DDS, MS, captain, dental corps, United States Navy, Retired.
Alumna Christina Rosenthal, DDS, MPH, a 2005 College of Dentistry graduate and owner of Paradigm Dental Center in Memphis, gave the charge to the graduates.
“Everything that happens to you is a lesson or a blessing,” Dr. Rosenthal told the class. “Practice with an open heart and open hands.”
Their training at UTHSC links each class member together forever, she said. “Remember it’s a gift to you, as you give your gift of dentistry to the world.”