Persistence and Perseverance: Class of 2023 Recognition and Awards Dinner honors their tenacity

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Check out our 2023 Awards Dinner album on Flickr to see more photos.

More than 60 awards were presented to GSDM graduates, faculty, and staff during the Predoctoral Class of 2023 Recognition and Awards Dinner at Agganis Arena on Thursday, May 18, to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.  

Associate Dean of Students Dr. Joseph Calabrese, or “Chief Happiness Officer” as he called himself, welcomed the graduates and their guests at the start of evening, saying the DMD 23 and DMD AS 23 classes were a special and determined group of students who have left an everlasting mark on GSDM.   

“We will remember the Class of 2023 as a kind, friendly, diverse, and compassionate group that will forever share a special bond,” Calabrese said. “As a class, you faced a few challenges along the way, but for me, the class of 2023 will be remembered most for their persistence and perseverance.”  

Dean Cataldo Leone said the Recognition and Awards Dinner is a treasured annual event honoring all members of the graduating class and acknowledging individual members for their notable achievements. He spoke directly to the graduates, saying he is excited to have them become GSDM alumni and fellow oral healthcare professionals.  

“Class of 2023, you have worked extremely hard and accomplished so much throughout your years at school,” Leone said. “You met all challenges head on and artfully turned them into opportunities. You demonstrated the ability to adapt – quickly and continually – to new ways of learning, treating patients, and even socializing. You have been an extraordinary class. We commend you for your perseverance and thank you for your partnership in achieving our mutual goals.”  

GSDM Alumni Association President Dr. Maryam Shomali CAS 87 ENDO 93 welcomed the Class of 2023 to the GSDM alumni community, which she described as a family built on a foundation of shared experiences. She encouraged the graduates to nurture those connections as they embark on their dental careers.  

“You are now part of an alumni group of nearly 9,000 members from around the world that boasts diversity and success in all fields,” Shomali said. “Tonight, we celebrate your special achievement – but with this achievement comes a responsibility to our profession that starts with maintaining your strong connection with our school and your fellow alumni. By preserving these relationships, you will set yourself up to achieve all the successes that you seek.”   

The presidents of the DMD and DMD AS Classes of 2023, Jaskamal Singh and Ahmed Baioumy respectively, jointly presented the class gift to Dean Leone. The class donation was matched by Calabrese, and the gift will be designated for programs that will directly benefit both the DMD and DMD AS programs.  

The event program also featured two student speakers – Singh and Faud Tawmeh DMD AS 23 – who were chosen based on peer nominations.  

Singh remarked she felt an instant family-like connection with the members of her class. She said they share an unbreakable bond of “shared laughs, trauma, and triumphs.”  

“We didn’t realize it at the time, but sitting in the student lounge, chatting about exams and clinic was something so simple, but something that truly brought joy and a sense of accomplishment to each of us,” Singh said.  

Tawmeh honored all the Advanced Standing students, noting their dedication in leaving behind their home countries to pursue their dental dreams in the United States. His personal journey was not easy, as he balanced his schoolwork with parental responsibilities involved in raising three boys, Sam, Gigi, and Dave. Despite the challenges, he said he knew he was ultimately working to make his children’s lives better.  

“It was not just the physical toll, but also the emotional weight of feeling torn between my family and the rigorous academic pursuits,” Tawmeh said. “There were moments when I felt like giving up, wondering if I could ever strike a balance between the two. But I knew I had to keep pushing forward. I had to be strong for my family and show my boys that anything is possible with hard work and determination.”  

A full list of individuals recognized at the dinner is available here.  

To read our full commencement coverage, please visit our commencement 2023 page. 


By Rachel Grace Philipson