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Senior Awards Banquet Honors Graduating Dental Students

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 5:19pm

Walter G. Sterling Award winner Jay Littlefield (left) with Dean John A. Valenza, DDS.

Dean John A. Valenza, DDS (right) presents the Walter G. Sterling Award for academic excellence to graduating senior Jay Littlefield at the Senior Awards Banquet April 18. Photo by Darrel Gonzales.

Dozens of honors – both prestigious and comical – were handed out at the annual awards banquet in April for the graduating dental Class of 2013 at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston.

The April 18 event, held at the Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS University Life Center, recognized seniors for excellence in academics, research, leadership and in various dental specialties – 51 awards in all – and also allows students and faculty to reflect on the previous four years.

“We’ve received a wonderful gift through watching you grow personally and professionally,” said Philip Pierpont, DDS, associate dean for student and alumni affairs. “Thank you for letting us accompany you on this wonderful ride.”

Dental student Jay Littlefield was the star of the evening, winning eight awards – including the Walter G. Sterling Award for academic excellence, presented by Dean John Valenza, DDS.  A complete list of awards and winners is included in this article.  

One faculty member who knows Littlefield well was not surprised he collected so many accolades. He has demonstrated exceptional intellect, integrity and a deeply conscientious approach to patient care, said Associate Professor Gargi Mukherji, DDS, his group practice director. 

This year’s banquet marked the introduction of a new award to the annual honor roll – the W. Kenneth Horwitz, DDS, Ethics and Professionalism Award. The award is sponsored by Horwitz, a Houston dentist and adjunct associate professor, who stresses the importance of professional ethics in his keynote addresses to first-year students at the annual White Coat Ceremony.

Fourth-year dental student Kelly Beckham was the inaugural winner of the Horwitz Award. 

Student Council President Patricia Chao (right) presents the Freeman Award to Clinical Assistant Professor Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD.

Freeman Award winner Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD (left) with Student Council President Patricia Chao.

McGovern Award winner Debra Stewart, DDS (left) with Student Council President Patricia Chao.

McGovern Award winner Debra Stewart, DDS (left) with Student Council President Patricia Chao.

Students were not the only ones honored at the banquet. Clinical Assistant Professor Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD, won the John Freeman Award for Outstanding Nonclinical Teaching, and Clinical Assistant Professor Debra Stewart, DDS, won the John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching. The Freeman award winner is chosen by first- and second-year dental students. The McGovern award is chosen by third- and fourth-year students.

The banquet ended on a humorous note with class officers handing out gag awards – such as “Mr. GQ” and “Stop Instagramming Your Food.” Dental student Rob Zboril closed the evening – and brought the down the house – with an impersonation of Pierpont.

A complete list of awards and winners follows:

GENERAL DENTISTRY

Academy of Dental Materials Award:  Justin Chahine
Academy of General Dentistry Senior Student Dental Award:  Liann Marruffo
Academy of Operative Dentistry Award:  Juan Martinez
American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry:  Luis Rodriguez
American Association of Public Health Dentistry Award:  Melissa Uriegas
American Equilibration Society:  Elizabeth Cheng
General Houston Dental Society Community Dentistry Award:  Melissa Uriegas
Houston Academy of General Dentistry:  Genaro Cano
International College of Dentists Student Leadership Award:  Duc-huy “Michael” Dang
James L. Rout Award:  Jay Littlefield
Myron Sigler Esthetic Dentistry Award:  Jacquelyn Flores
Quintessence Award for Clinical Achievement in Restorative Dentistry:  Claudia Minoso
Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry Award:  Valerie Martinez
Academy for Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities Award:  Claudia Minoso
James P. Ferguson Award for Excellence in Dental Anatomy:  Jay Littlefield

DIAGNOSTIC SCIENCES
American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology Award:  Kyne Homerstad
American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology Award:  Jay Littlefield
American Academy of Oral Medicine Certificate of Merit:  Valerie Martinez

SPECIALTIES
American Association of Endodontists Student Achievement Award:  Jason Koranek
American Association of Orthodontists Award:  Un Hae Nam
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Award:  Derek Steinbring

PERIODONTICS & PROSTHODONTICS
American Academy of Periodontology Dental Achievement Award:  Jay Littlefield
Quintessence Award for Clinical Achievement in Periodontics:  Valerie Martinez
Academy of Osseointegration Implant Dentistry Award:  Jay Littlefield
American Academy of Craniofacial Pain Award:  Claudia Minoso
American Academy of Implant Dentistry Student Award:  Cuong Phan
American Academy of Orofacial Pain Outstanding Senior Award:  Emilia Garrison
Dentsply Merit Award in Removable Prosthodontics:  Liann Marruffo
Hanau Best of the Best Award for Excellence in Prosthodontics:  Bien Dang
International Congress of Oral Implantologists Award:  Liann Marruffo

GENERAL EXCELLENCE
Alpha Omega Certificate of Academic Achievement Award:  Jay Littlefield
American College of Dentists Outstanding Student Leader:  Nathalie Clouse Dunwody
ASDA Award of Excellence:  Hannah Ye
UTSD Alumni Association Award:  Coleman Meadows
Texas Dental Association Outstanding Senior:  Cynthia Corral
Ninth District Dental Society Ethics and Integrity Award:  Saleem Baba
Academy of Dentistry Servant Leadership Award:  John Vann
Walter G. Sterling Award:  Jay Littlefield
Texas Association of Women Dentists:  Lindsay Minor
W. Kenneth Horwitz, DDS, Ethics and Professionalism Award:  Kelly Beckham

RESEARCH
American Association of Oral Biologists Award: Tamir Anver
Houston Chapter of the American Association of Dental Research Award:  Brian Case
Pierre Fauchard Academy Student Award:  Elizabeth Cheng
Quintessence Award for Research Achievement:  Jay Littlefield

ORAL SURGERY
American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Implant Award:  Tamir Anver
American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Dental Student Award:  Andrew Arango
Houston Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Award:  Scott Smith
Southwest Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Award:  Scott Smith
American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Award:  Lori Harrell