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University of Tennessee Health Science Center Graduates 793 New Health Professionals Virtually

Jeffrey Brooks, DMD, executive associate dean and associate dean of clinical and extramural affairs for the College of Dentistry, hoods Dr. Reed Turpin, Class of 2020 valedictorian, during the college’s virtual commencement celebration May 11. Dr. Turpin was invited by the college’s administration to be honored in person while other dentistry graduates were celebrated online.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center will graduate 793 new health care professionals during virtual commencement celebrations between May and August. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no in-person ceremonies are being held, however, each college is acknowledging its graduates virtually in its own manner. In addition, UTHSC is recognizing each graduating class on social media on their originally scheduled commencement dates.

“This will be a year for the record books,” said Lori Gonzalez, PhD, vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs. “Our campus community stepped up to ensure our students could graduate on time. The faculty did an extraordinary job in offering courses remotely with a one week notice and our students proved over and over why they will be remarkable health care providers and researchers. We are so proud of our graduates and look forward to hearing about their careers.”

Dr. Turpin is presented the the Dr. William F. Slagle Faculty Medal by College of Dentistry Dean James C. Ragain, DDS.

The numbers of those graduating from each college are: 121 from the College of Dentistry, 30 from the College of Graduate Health Sciences, 243 from the College of Health Professions, 158 from the College of Medicine, 86 from the College of Nursing, and 155 from the College of Pharmacy.

The College of Pharmacy kicked off the celebrations May 5 by honoring its students with a congratulatory video. The Colleges of Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, and Dentistry honored their graduates on May 11. The College of Graduate Health Sciences is sending gifts to their graduates, while the College of Health Professions sent gifts and honored their students on social media. The College of Dentistry held its own virtual ceremony. The Colleges of Medicine and Nursing will honor their graduates on May 29.

Abraham Kim, DDS, was originally set to receive his Doctor of Dentistry degree in a ceremony May 11 but commemorated the milestone virtually instead. My favorite part of attending UTHSC was the administration, faculty, and staff,” Dr. Kim said. “My opinion was confirmed especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The true character of the whole organization has been exemplified during hard times, and they have been nothing short of phenomenal in working for the students while at the same time following guidelines of various organizations.”

Dr. Kim said the pandemic has made him realize how dedicated he is to his new profession. “It definitely made me realize a lot of the things I took for granted, like going to clinic,” he said. “It was a lot of work and communicating, but the administration’s swift response for alternative options for graduation allowed for timely graduation.”

Dr. Kim is enlisting in the United States Navy as a general dentist. “I’m going to training in Rhode Island later this month and then my family and I will be moving to Beaufort, South Carolina, as our first duty station,” he said.