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Over the past month, the Pacific Dugoni family gathered together to celebrate an exciting milestone in our school’s history. But more importantly, you celebrated the bonds you have with your fellow classmates and colleagues. You remind me every day of how fortunate I am to call you my family.

Staff Photo
Dugoni staff exploring the new building.

More than 2,000 members of the Pacific Dugoni family visited San Francisco for Alumni Weekend and the dedication of our new building at 155 Fifth Street. It was amazing to see so many generations of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends exploring our new home. Your enthusiasm and energy put the finishing touches on the building and filled it with life.

Dedication - Students
Pacific Dugoni students get a preview of their simulation lab.

Having an extended family means that there’s a home for you wherever you travel. I had the opportunity to meet with more than 30 Pacific Dugoni alumni in Dallas, and I was touched to hear that they get together frequently to socialize and share what they are up to personally and professionally. They have built a community in their city and continue to live out Pacific Dugoni’s values of humanism, collaboration and respect.

Last month, more than 70 members of the Pacific Dugoni family gathered in San Antonio for the American Dental Education Association’s Annual Session. We hosted a dinner on the River Walk on the Sunday evening of the event, and invited our alumni who live in and around San Antonio. As a school family, we learn and work together. But we also have the chance to relax, gathering together over a table to share food and conversation.

Alumni Meeting
Alumni come together at the Annual Alumni Meeting.

One of my favorite philosophers, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” I know that transition can bring challenges and opportunities, whether it’s moving to a new school, graduating, starting out in a new program, finding mentors, developing a practice or just trying a new way of doing things. Fortunately, the Pacific Dugoni family is a strong support network that reaches far and wide. With all my heart, thank you for being a family that stays connected.

Alumni Luncheon

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Over the holiday break I had an opportunity to visit my extended family in Italy. My travels took me to San Salvatore Telesino, located just a bit northeast of Naples. My grandparents lived there before they immigrated to the United States. It is where my grandmother was born and raised.

Meeting my extended Italian family was quite a thrill. They showed me the local sights, shared delicious food and wine, discussed family members past and present, and shared stories about their daily life in Italy. The importance of family in Italian culture cannot be understated and this trip certainly brought that point to life.

Similarly, the Pacific Dugoni family ties run deep. The anticipation I felt in Italy before meeting my extended relatives was similar to how our new students might feel before they first meet their fellow classmates and faculty members.

Our school family enjoys a special bond built over time. Shared interests and experiences bring us together. Just like in Italy, food and family hospitality are part of our school culture. Our traditions include the Cioppino dinner for first-year students hosted by alumni, new student orientation weekend, the Over the Hump party, our Bridge Builders international culture and food festival, White Coat Ceremony, dinners for student leaders/administrators, and the third-year class trip to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, just to name a few. The school’s family ties are strengthened during the countless hours of classes, clinic sessions, community outreach, lunch and learns, and socializing.

These ties continue after a student graduates from our school. He or she will be an alumnus of Pacific Dugoni for life. We hope our graduates will stay in touch after they have “left the nest” and come home for reunions and other events.

As with any family dynamic, the dental school experience has many aspects. It can be challenging, humorous, joyful and stressful – but ultimately rewarding. We members of the Pacific Dugoni community grow, laugh, challenge ourselves and learn from each other knowing that each of us cares for the success of one another.
My famiglia, indeed!

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