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Meet Six Students Chasing Their Dentistry Dreams

The CU School of Dental Medicine's white coat ceremony welcomes students to the dental profession.

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Written by Laura Ramsey on September 6, 2023

For dental students, there are many exciting milestones to celebrate, from getting into dental school to seeing their first patient to graduation day. The white coat ceremony is one of these momentous occasions, signifying the transition from student to patient care provider. 

We are thrilled to celebrate the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Class of 2027 and the Advanced Standing International Student Program (ISP) Class of 2024 at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) white coat ceremony on Friday, September 15, 2023. 

A total of 118 first-year students will receive their white coats this year, each of whom has a unique personal story that has brought them to CU with a passion for helping others and a dream to pursue dentistry. Here you'll find six of these stories. 

Mariam Al Salman, DDS Class of 2027   

My name is Mariam Al Salman and I’m from Iraq. I moved to the United States eight years ago to pursue my dream, which was getting into dental school. I’m so lucky to be part of the DDS Class of 2027. I chose this amazing school because it’s the perfect place for me to learn and grow and become the dentist that I’ve always wanted to be, while also being close to family and friends. I look forward to learning more about dentistry from our amazing faculty and mentors.

Aside from dentistry, I’m an outdoorsy and outgoing person. You’ll always find me trying new restaurants and catching new hiking trails and Colorado is the best place for such activities.  

Fahad Ismail, BDS, ISP Class of 2024  

I started my journey of trying to get into a dental school in the United States in 2017, right after I graduated dental school in Pakistan, which is where I grew up. The University of Colorado was the first school to invite me in 2018 for an interview and I fell in love with the campus and, being a city-person, the Denver downtown area. Although I didn’t get in that year, I kept applying to the program over the years, while practicing as a general dentist in Lahore, Pakistan, hoping they’d let me join their ranks. Finally in 2022, I was accepted. 

In CU, I have had the opportunity to be completely and authentically myself. I have found a support system in the form of my classmates and especially my friends who have made the first few months of my return to dental school worthwhile. Most importantly, CU has allowed me to live out a dream of mine that I had been struggling to achieve for as long as I remember, for which I am extremely grateful. 

While downtime is hard to come by in a dental school, I use my time off to go out and explore the city, spend time with friends, make good use of the campus wellness center and sometimes go to Riverfront Park in Denver with a book and a cup of coffee and just enjoy my alone time. 

Lefatshe Lefatshe, DDS Class of 2027 

Being the first in my family to complete college and now on the path to obtaining a doctoral degree, I recognize the significance of my journey into the realm of dentistry. This decision was unexpectedly influenced by a visit to an Army clinic last year, which highlighted the pivotal role of dental care. Raised in a family of seven siblings, our discussions rarely revolved around oral health. Yet, that singular experience underscored its importance. As a result, I chose CU School of Dental Medicine for my studies, attracted by its focus on community service. Additionally, Colorado's beautiful environment aligns with my love for soccer. Outside of my academic and athletic interests, I enjoy creating music, writing, staying active, and spending quality time with my family. 

Evan Shusterman, DDS Class of 2027 

My name is Evan Shusterman, and I was born and raised in beautiful Tampa, Florida. This past May, I graduated from Florida State University (FSU) with a major in physiology and minors in biology and chemistry. My journey to dental school has been an amazing yet transformative period of my life that has consisted of many different experiences: shadowing dental providers, volunteering in the community, being employed in a dental office, working as a tutor, serving on executive boards across multiple organizations, participating in a dental mission trip to Panama, and performing research within FSU's chemistry department. I am truly grateful for everything I've gotten to accomplish leading up to this point. Going into the profession of dentistry has been a long-time goal of mine stemming from early childhood, and I'm extremely excited to finally see this dream come true! 

I chose the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine because it was the program that met all of the most important factors during my dental school selection. These factors include a diverse class environment that will help me grow, a comprehensive curriculum that will guide me in becoming a competent dental professional, an emphasis on serving rural populations, and the opportunity to participate in research. I am most looking forward to meeting my talented classmates and gaining valuable clinical experience. Some of my hobbies and interests outside of dentistry include ice hockey, running, music, coffee, and trying new restaurants.

Ana Selman, DD, MDS, ISP Class of 2024

Hello, my name is Ana Maria Selman, I’m currently in the International Student Program Class of 2024 and I am class president. I was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. I knew I wanted to be a dentist since I was six years old when I got braces, and started this dental journey. I obtained my dental degree from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in 2018. I earned my Master's in Pediatric Dentistry from Universidad El Bosque in 2021. 

CU has always been my dream school and it is highly recognized, even in Georgia, which is where I moved from. I had the honor to work with two alumni from CU and obtained close first-hand experience that made CU close to my heart.

In my spare time I love to create on my Cricut, designing tumblers and tooth-ID badges for my friends and classmates. I enjoy going on hikes with my chihuahua named Molly and my husband Willis. I enjoy family time and talking to my parents who are still living in Colombia, in any opportunity I get. 

Małgorzata Wąż, DDS Class of 2027 

My name is Małgorzata Wąż, but my friends and family call me Gosia. My family and I immigrated to the U.S. from Poland when I was a baby and I grew up in the Chicago area before moving to Colorado a few years ago. I enjoy being outside as much as I can - running, backpacking, hiking, cross-country and downhill skiing, cycling and, as of recently, competing in triathlons! I also enjoy painting, watching TV with my sweet cat, and trying out new recipes.

I am excited to begin dental school after teaching high school science classes for the past five years in Hawaii, Wisconsin and Colorado. Becoming a dentist is a new dream of mine after having some negative experiences as a patient growing up. In dentistry I will be an artist in restorative work, teach about procedures and dental care to patients, and work with members of the public to use my skills for the common good. All of the components of the profession are a great fit for my personality and skills and I am so thankful for the opportunity to study at the University of Colorado. I look forward to being a full time student again, to work with my hands in many lab classes, and to learn from wonderful professors and through the impressive technology at CU such as the Haptics Lab and the new Dental Advanced Simulation Hub (DASH). This summer I’ve been doing public health research with Professor Bruce Dye, DDS, MPH, which has made me even more excited to work towards equity in oral health care as a future dentist in a variety of settings and to participate in the Advanced Clinical Training and Service (ACTS) program in a few years. Dentistry is an amazing career and I'm excited to start my journey at CU! 


Congratulations to all students earning their white coats this year! We are honored to be part of your journey in dentistry. 

Topics: Students