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The DDS Class of 2023 Shines Bright

Graduates, faculty and alumni received awards for their outstanding achievements and significant impact.

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At this year's DDS graduation banquet and awards ceremony, we recognized each member of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) Class of 2023 for their incredible efforts, accomplishments and perseverance. As is tradition, we presented a number of individual awards established by specialty groups and community partners. Faculty members also received awards, selected by the graduating class. At the commencement ceremony, speaker Leah E. Schulz, DDS ’14, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Class of 2023 Graduation Awards

The following award recipients were selected by SDM faculty departments or committees. 

  • Academy of Dental Materials Award - Jade Vigil
  • Academy of General Dentistry Senior Student Dental Award - Akshay Shah
  • Academy of Operative Dentistry Award - Courtney Santistevan
  • Advanced Clinical Training and Services Program Award - Amelia Kraft
  • Alpha Omega International Fraternity Award - Bao-Chi Clara Nghiem
  • American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry Award - Thuy Trang Trang  
  • American Academy of Implant Dentistry Dental Student Award - Andreas Schmalz
  • American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Dental Student Award - Madison Hobbs
  • American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Achievement Award - Bao-Chi Clara Nghiem
  • American Academy of Oral Medicine Certificate of Merit - Jourdan Kidd
  • American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Certificate of Merit Award - Stephanie Guimarães
  • American Academy of Periodontology Dental Student Award - Gilbert A. Fru
  • American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Implant Student Award - Patrick Murphy
  • American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Student Award - Madison Courtney
  • American Association of Orthodontists Student Dental Award - Brittney Sullivan  
  • American Association of Public Health Dentistry Award - Jacqueline Merz
  • American College of Dentists Student Award - Travis R. Lee
  • American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Horace Wells Award - Akshay Shah
  • American Equilibration Society Award - Minh-Tom Van  
  • Brasseler USA Award - Travis R. Lee
  • Brian D. Stone Memorial Award - Elizabeth Rodie
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Award - Jourdan Kidd and Stephanie Wakefield
  • The Colorado Prosthodontic Society Award - Zane Khattak  
  • Dr. Barry Beauvais/Special Care Dentistry Association Award - Joshua Presley
  • Dr. Kenneth Grove/Memorial of the Dental Foundation of Colorado Award - Zane Khattak
  • Miles Markley Delta Sigma Delta Award - Hayden Smith
  • Dr. Solomon Averbach Humanitarian Award - Mark Fiorello
  • Dr. Thomas J. Bomberg Memorial Award - Gilbert A. Fru
  • Hanau Award for Excellence in Prosthodontics - Patrick Murphy  
  • International College of Dentists Student Humanitarian Award - Patrick Mugabe
  • International College of Dentists Leadership Award - Jacqueline Merz
  • International Congress of Oral Implantologists' Sullivan Schein Dental Predoctoral Achievement Award - Gilbert A. Fru
  • Outstanding Dental Student in Implant Dentistry-Academy of Osseointegration - Emily Li
  • The Pierre Fauchard Academy Senior Student Award - Emily Li  
  • Predoctoral Student Achievement Award in Endodontics - Patrick Mugabe
  • Predoctoral Student Prosthodontic Achievement Award - Makenna Fopma  
  • Quintessence Award for Clinical Achievement in Restorative Dentistry - Bao-Chi Clara Nghiem
  • Quintessence Award for Clinical Achievements in Periodontics - Emily Li
  • Quintessence Award for Research Achievement - Madison Aungst
  • Society of Color and Appearance in Dentistry Award - Brenda Batres
  • Western Society of Periodontology Award - Jourdan Kidd  


> Jump to photos from the 2023 Banquet & Awards Ceremony.


Faculty Awards 

The following faculty award recipients were selected by the graduating Class of 2023. 

The following faculty members were recognized with teaching awards during the main CU Anschutz commencement ceremony. The graduating class selects both awards. A School of Dental Medicine governance committee also approves the Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award. 


Leah Schultz speaking at a podium at graduation

Leah E. Schulz, DDS 14, addresses the graduating class at commencement on May 22, 2023.

Distinguished Alumni Award 

The CU Dental Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated excellence in the dental profession, commitment to community involvement, and whose work has made a significant mark in dentistry. 

  • 2023 CU Dental Distinguished Alumni Award - Leah E. Schulz, DDS ’14 



Omicron Kappa Upsilon 

The Pi Rho chapter of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society invites new members each year who are graduating academically at the top of their class. Congratulations to our 2023 inductees: nine student headshots

  • Madison Courtney 
  • Madison Hobbs 
  • Zane Khattak 
  • Jourdan Kidd 
  • Amelia Kraft 
  • Emily Li 
  • Pei-hsuan Lin 
  • Bao-Chi Clara Nghiem 
  • Brendan Reich 


OKU also welcomed new honorary, faculty and lifetime inductees to the Pi Rho chapter: 


Dean Kassebaum addressed the graduates at commencement: “We are proud of the dentists you have become, celebrate your achievements in dental school, share excitement for the promise of your futures, and look forward to your accomplishments as distinguished alumni of CU.” 

Congratulations to all. 




2023 Banquet & Awards Ceremony photos by SDM Communications and Content Manager Laura Ramsey.



Topics: Alumni, Students