GSDM Welcomes DMD Class of 2027 and DMD AS Class of 2025:  A Day-by-Day Breakdown of Predoctoral Matriculation Week 2023  

For the incoming Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine DMD Class of 2027 and DMD AS Class of 2025, Predoctoral Matriculation Week is their introduction to all things GSDM. (Photo Credit: Dan Bomba, GSDM.)


For the newest predoctoral students at GSDM, their first week is unlike any other. 

For the incoming Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine DMD Class of 2027 and DMD AS Class of 2025, Predoctoral Matriculation Week is their introduction to all things GSDM. During the week’s culminating event – the Professional Ceremony – students will be ushered into their GSDM dental school journey.   

Erica Stocks, GSDM director of student affairs, said predoctoral matriculation is one of the most exciting times for students, as it is an event-filled week that sets the tone for the next few years to come.  

“It’s like the first-day-of-school vibes,” Stocks said. “It’s an opportunity for our students to really come in to begin their professional career, to join our community and to really start thinking about [how they are] going to be a dentist. This is the culmination of years and years of hard work for all these students.” 

GSDM Communications attended a variety of events during Predoctoral Matriculation Week to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a brand new GSDM student. 


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Monday, July 24 – Day 1 

New Student Check-in & Breakfast  

There is only one chance to make a first impression – and the incoming students took this chance seriously. During new student check-in – the very first event of the week – Hiebert Lounge was filled with impeccable outfits and polite small talk as the DMD and DMD AS students mingled with their new classmates.  

As students ate their breakfast, they sat with their matriculation groups that symbolized legendary GSDM faculty and staff members (Hutter, Leone, Schilder), local street names (Harrison, Newton, Albany), general dental history (Black, Blue Spruce, Freeman), and BU history (Scarlet, Silber, Case.)  

Dr. Joseph Calabrese, associate dean of students, said Predoctoral Matriculation Week is a great opportunity to meet the new class and see them in a more casual environment before they begin their rigorous programs.  

“It’s a very exciting day for 217 new kids who are going to embark on a journey that will be full of amazing highs and a few lows,” Calabrese said. “In the end, the hard work throughout the journey will result or culminate in the ultimate prize, and that’s a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Boston University.”  

During breakfast, Dr. Robert Kasberg, assistant dean for admissions, noted GSDM had more than 2,500 applications to the DMD program and more than 1,700 for the DMD AS programs, making the individuals in front of him within the top eight percent of worthy applicants and now students. 

To him, Kasberg continued, that meant that the new students deserved more than just a welcome.  

“Instead of welcoming you, my colleagues and I, we are going to congratulate you,” Kasberg said. 

Students shared their enthusiasm and eagerness for their first day as a GSDM student.  

Laura Florez DMD 27 said she has had a very eventful few days, including moving to a new apartment in a major city for the first time. She said she is full of mixed emotions, but she could not be more excited to start the journey of becoming a dentist by meeting her fellow dental peers.  

“I don’t think the universe would’ve put this experience in my path if it wasn’t going to be a good one,” she said.  

Joao Costa DMD AS 25 admitted it sounded corny but coming to GSDM felt like “a dream coming true.”  

“It’s like a long overdue time that I’ve been looking forward, and the chance and the opportunity to be around this group of professionals, faculty, everybody around here, it’s just amazing,” Costa said. 

Dean’s Welcome  

During a welcome session on Monday morning, Dean Cataldo Leone met with all the incoming students and thanked them for choosing Boston University for their dental education. He said he and the GSDM community will do their very best to make sure it is a rewarding experience. He also gave a nod to his previous role as academic dean, warning them to start right away with good study habits.  

“Welcome everyone,” Leone said. “This is a wonderful day. It’s a wonderful week. We’re so pleased that you all accepted to come to Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, affectionately known as GSDM.”  

Leone also introduced this year’s Matriculation Ambassadors, current GSDM predoctoral students who have been selected to help support matriculation and serve as a resource for new students. He said these students are a great representation of the passion of the GSDM community.  

Student Life Fair and Ice Cream Social  

As a sweet treat to end the day’s jammed-packed agenda, the new students were treated to an ice cream social – choosing from four Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors for a delicious “cherry on top” to their first day.  

While they socialized, the new students had an opportunity to learn about some of the student organizations at GSDM during the Student Life Fair, including Alpha Omega, BU Association of Women Dentists, Student National Dental Association, Uniformed Services Student Dental Association, and more. Several BU organizations and departments, such as BU Sustainability and BU Health Services, also participated in the Fair.  

Lea Romano DMD 25, vice president of BU Student Dental Aesthetics Society (BUSDAS), said she knows the next two to four years respectively for DMD and DMD AS students are jam packed with busy schedules, but she hopes they take the time to join student organizations.  

“Everyone wants a nice smile that they can be confident in, and this organization just wants to educate our students to better treat their patients and give them a smile that they feel happy and happy to smile with,” Romano said.  

Ruchi Mathur DMD 24, president of Society for Queers & Allies in Dentistry, said the Student Life Fair is an amazing opportunity to increase the organization’s outreach. Mathur added that the current executive board is passionate, but it’s critical to get new members to keep the group’s momentum.  

“We just want to have a lot of new students come and join the organization and really promote the cause [and] promote visibility at GSDM,” Mathur said.  

Deyar Dashti DMD 25, president of the Persian Student Dental Association (PSDA), said PSDA has a lot of events planned for the upcoming academic year and the organization is eager to the incoming students take part in the activities.  

“We want to introduce everyone here at the GSDM community and the medical school to the Persian culture,” Dashti said. “We have a lot of Persian people at the dental and medical school. We would like to make the community a little bit bigger and more cohesive.”  

At the end of the Social, Calabrese thanked everyone for working through the first day of Matriculation Week. He also thanked GSDM alumni couple Dr. Craig Allen and Dr. Nicole Paquette-Allen, both DMD 95, who have been long-time sponsors for the annual event.  


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Tuesday, July 25 – Day 2 

Loupes Fitting/White Coat Fitting/Scrub Fitting  

Throughout the second day of Matriculation Week, the incoming students got fitted for all the gear that will help transform them into a dental student: loupes, white coats, and scrubs. Even after only knowing their classmates for one day, they were already quick to assist each other select the perfect size.   

Students worked with representatives from medical equipment manufacture company Orascoptic to figure out the perfect permutation for their custom-crafted loupes (magnifying glasses.)  

During the loupes fitting sessions, Amanda Garvens, Orascoptic territory development representative, said it’s vital for GSDM students to get the perfect fit for their loupes.  

“It helps their career. It’s going to make it longer,” Garvens said. “A lot of dentists end up having neck and back pain from crouching over all the time, so this helps them sit it more in a better posture when they’re working on patients.”  

The DMD AS 25 students had the morning for their fittings, while the DMD 27 students had the afternoon. Students in both sessions expressed how receiving their gear made the transition into becoming a GSDM dental student feel more official.  

Varun Nischal DMD AS 25 said it’s been an emotional journey to get to GSDM. He originally practiced in India for 10 years, then moved to Canada. After wanting to work in the United States for years, it’s a relief to start to now be at GSDM. 

“When I was in my [dental] school for the first time, there was a time when I had dreamt that one day I [would] come to the US, and it came after 15 years,” Nischal said. “We’re living our dream now.”  

While receiving gear, Andre Massabni DMD 27 said it was great to have the instant camaraderie from the GSDM community.  

“I’ll be excited down the road to see patients, but for now, I’m excited to meet the people who are going to be my support system for four years,” Massabni said.  


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Wednesday, July 26 – Day 3 

Panel Discussion: First Year Course Directors

The DMD Class of 27 class heard from six first-year course directors on Wednesday morning.

During the panel discussion, each course director briefly explained what their course entails and gave advice on how students can be best prepared to do well.

“You don’t get into dental school without here doing very well and without taking very, very difficult courses,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whitney CAMED 05, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and course director for the Dental Anatomical Sciences-I course. “I think what is particularly challenging is time management. What you are going to see is that there are many courses that you are taking and there is a lot of volume and there is a lot of information to memorize and then to apply. I think time management is super important and what I would say, you all have been successful academically, but if you feel like you are struggling a little bit and need some help, just reach out to us.”

Calabrese noted that incoming students will be in good hands from day one of their dental education.

“The group of faculty [members] that you have in your first year are among the finest in the country,” Calabrese said. “The education that you receive at Boston University your first year is unparalleled.”

DMD 27 Instrument Pick-Up

The DMD Class of 27 entered the Stimulation Learning Center with empty suitcases – but those suitcases didn’t stay empty for long, as students packed them full of the dental instruments they will be using over the next four years.

After packing up a suitcase full of new instruments, Anjani Maher DMD 27 said it is going to be an exhilarating time learning how to properly use all of them.

“It’s a little overwhelming because it’s a lot of instruments but, it will take some time to get used to,” Maher said.

Markee Weaver DMD 27 said receiving the dental instruments felt like the best symbolic moment of the week.

“It feels so real like I am about to start my dental journey,” Weaver said. “It will soon be a dentist, it’s so real now.”


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Thursday, July 27 – Day 4 

Global & Population Health Presentation

Both the DMD 27 and DMD AS 25 classes heard on Thursday morning from Dr. Michelle Henshaw, associate dean of global and population health, and Dr. Ana Zea, community-based education director, about opportunities to participate in GSDM’s efforts to improve the overall health of the global population.

The GSDM Global & Population Health department works to promote oral health and disease prevention in a variety of ways and settings, focusing on communities or populations with limited access, resources, and advantages. GSDM students will be able to partake in community-based service activities, service learning, externships, and other programs throughout their dental education.

“Why do we do it?” Henshaw asked. “First and foremost, it benefits our local community. It makes us good neighbors and partners. It also benefits you as students. It lets you step a little outside of your comfort zone, interact with different populations, learn what different community-based organizations are all about. It really does – for those of you who may not have volunteered a lot in the past – give you a stronger sense of civic engagement and really will make you a more well-rounded healthcare professional, not just a dentist.”

Student Panel Discussion

After hearing from GSDM faculty and staff throughout the week, the incoming first-year students had a unique opportunity on Thursday to ask questions of current DMD students about their GSDM experiences.

The student panelists discussed how they have been successful as dental students – as well as how they learned from their mistakes. They strongly advised that students should maintain a healthy school/life balance – recommending that the first years get involved in extracurricular activities, form study groups, and schedule time to relax.

Dean’s Reception

At the end of a busy week, the DMD Class of 2027 and DMD AS Class of 2025 enjoyed a chance to unwind at the Dean’s Reception.

Students admired the breathtaking views of their new city from the windows of Hiebert Lounge as they enjoyed each other’s company, small bites, and drinks – including two mocktails named “The Tooth Fairy” and “The Goldman.” Leone mingled among the students, eager to hear directly from the incoming class.

Although Predoctoral Matriculation Week was informative, Wenmar Barrios DMD AS 25 said it felt like time to dive headfirst into the classroom.

“I love the group and that’s going to be super important,” Barrios said. “I’m very excited for the friendships we are going to build.”

Kamal Dabaja DMD 27 said this week proved that GSDM was the right decision.

“I feel like I belong here,” Dabaja said.



Friday, July 28 – Day 5

For the week’s grand finale, the DMD Class of 2027 and DMD AS Class of 2025 prepared for their first milestone GSDM event: Professional Ceremony. During the Professional Ceremony, they will be officially welcomed into the field of dentistry and GSDM. Students will receive a Boston University pin that they will wear during their White Coat Ceremony and Commencement later in their GSDM journey.

By Rachel Grace Philipson