Tag Archives: alumni

Passion for Pacific: Alumni Give Back

by Christina Boufis

Imagine a dental school with no running water on the second-floor clinic. “The patients would expectorate into porcelain cuspidors, and underneath there was a box with a gallon jug in it,” explains Dr. F. Paul Senise, ’65. “At the end of the day, you had to empty the jug.”

Now picture the third-floor anatomy lab without air conditioning, just like the rest of the building at 14th and Mission Streets. “You almost lost your breath,” Senise continues. “All the cadavers were wrapped in gauze. And in the heat of the summer, flies would lay their eggs.”

“In spite of that, the quality of dentistry that was taught was superb,” adds Senise. Such rough conditions were very real at the old dental school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where in the early 1960s four students—Paul Senise, Ernest Giachetti, Kenneth Frangadakis and Morel Fidler—became roommates and forged a deep friendship that still continues after more than 50 years.
“We have been very close since our graduation,” says Dr. Morel Fidler ’65. “Our children are friends. Our grandchildren are friends,” explains Dr. Kenny Frangadakis ’66. “We spend our vacations together up at Lake Tahoe.” All have given back to the dental school many times over, in different ways, both collectively and individually. “We didn’t know it at the time, but in our hearts we wanted to make the school a better place than the one we graduated from,” says Dr. Ernie Giachetti ’67, assistant professor in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences at the dental school. “That’s been the driving force for me teaching all these years,” he adds. Indeed, Giachetti is the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s longest continuing instructor, now in his 47th year of teaching.

Senise served as president of the Alumni Association and as a board member for many years. Frangadakis served as a member of the Pacific Dugoni Foundation, the school’s fundraising board. Fidler was a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for six years, from 2002 to 2008, and while on the board was the school historian, giving a history lesson to the board at the beginning of each meeting. “It has always been a pleasure to be involved in the school,” adds Fidler.

The deep friendship these alumni share developed decades ago when they became roommates. “We were four single guys living in San Francisco,” explains Senise. “We became this little mini family. Ernie was our chef. We all did the shopping. We didn’t have a whole lot of time for nonsense,” he recalls.

The four worked hard under the adverse conditions of the school, “akin to a prison camp,” says Senise. They’d come home to eat and study for a few hours then do lab work until 1:00 am or 2:00 am in the morning. Their lab was a garage in the house they shared, where they did everything from casting and polishing crowns to pressing and finishing dentures. “There weren’t too many things we didn’t do,” adds Senise.

“We graduated in spite of everything,” says Giachetti. “And it made us lean and mean and very success-oriented. We have shared our success wholeheartedly with the school to try to make it a better place than we had to endure.”

“It was a pretty oppressive educational environment,” adds Frangadakis. “But a couple of people stood out, like Art Dugoni, who was an orthodontic instructor when I was at school. He is a man you want to emulate. He has that humanistic approach to education. And he’s been a life mentor to me.”

[pullquote]We didn’t know it at the time, but in our hearts we wanted to make the school a better place than the one we graduated from.
—Dr. Ernie Giachetti[/pullquote]

After graduation, they all married and had children at about the same time, says Senise. The family bonds that were formed during their dental school days are continuing strong into the next generation.

Perhaps students and alumni remember Drs. Senise, Giachetti and Frangadakis for the annual First-Year Welcome and Cioppino Dinner where they make and serve a traditional San Francisco fish stew to incoming students every year?

The tradition began almost 40 years ago when Frangadakis and his family went on a fishing trip in the mountains, recalls Giachetti. “We had such a great time that weekend, we said why don’t we do it next year?” Each year they invited more friends, so the fishing party grew and now has been going strong for about 38 years. They go fishing at the start of trout season, right after Mother’s Day.

And it was on one of the fishing trips where they first started making cioppino, a seafood stew, en masse to feed a large group. One of the fathers of their fishing friends, a native San Franciscan, Mario Puccinelli, had a recipe for cioppino. “We used that recipe in our get-together and it was successful,” says Giachetti. When Senise was president of the Alumni Association, he noted that the school attracted the best students, so why serve them hotdogs on the first Friday? “Let’s cook cioppino.”

“When you invite someone into your family, what do you do?” asks Senise. “You sit and break bread.” That is exactly the family sentiment behind the Cioppino Dinner. “We encourage these young people to become a part of the Dugoni family, to show them we are welcoming them into the family,” he adds. “We hope that this is just the beginning, and that they would like to come back and participate in the school for the next generation,” just as he and his classmates have done.

[pullquote]We became this little mini family. Ernie was our chef. We all did the shopping. We didn’t have a whole lot of time for nonsense.
— Dr. Paul Senise[/pullquote]

“What could be more of a great introduction—and something uniquely San Francisco—than cioppino?” says Giachetti. The three alumni, Senise, Giachetti and Frangadakis, make a day of cooking vast pots of cioppino and serving it to the incoming class.

“Paul Senise gives a great speech about how incoming students might end up marrying each other or being best man at a wedding or being a godfather for one of their friend’s children,” says Frangadakis. And while students may chuckle, there’s no denying that strong bonds form during dental school, ones based on tradition, friendship, giving back and excellence in their profession. Both of Senise’s daughters, Kristine and Kimberly, graduated from Pacific. Dr. Kristine Cameron ’98 married another dental school graduate, Dr. Paul Cameron ’95, and Kimberly Fanelli ’06 Hygiene serves on the Alumni Association Board. “In my practice, we have 13 dentists,” says Frangadakis, “and all but three are Pacific grads.”

Three of the colleagues, Senise ’65, Giachetti ’67 and Frangadakis ’66, have received the Medallion of Distinction, the highest honor awarded by the Alumni Association for their exemplary service to the community and profession.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” says Frangadakis, “especially coming from a school that means so much to me. It puts me in good company with the other people who received the honor. I’m not sure I’m worthy of it, but I accepted it graciously.”

[pullquote]I’m very proud and honored to be a Pacific graduate. I can’t wait for the new school to open up. It’s going to be phenomenal.
— Dr. Kenny Frangadakis[/pullquote]

“The three things in my professional life that I’m most proud of are getting through the harshness of the old school, my longevity of teaching 47 years at the dental school and meriting—in the eyes of whoever hands it out—the Medallion of Distinction,” says Giachetti. “We have been fortunate to be given these Medallions of Distinction,” adds Senise, who also counts it among his highest professional honors.

And what do these four former roommates think about the new state-of-the art dental school downtown? “It should be a source of pride for all alumni. The physical building matches the quality of our students, faculty and alumni,” says Fidler. It’s the third dental school building for these friends. “There’s an enjoyment for the four of us, looking at what was, what is and what’s going to be with the advent of the new school. We are on the cutting edge of dental education,” says Senise.

“The Dugoni family as we call it today started from slim beginnings,” says Senise. “And here we are today after the hard work of a lot of people, probably the best school dental school in the nation and maybe even the world. A lot of that is due to alumni, people who went back and gave of their time, money and knowledge.”

“I wanted to make it a better place and it is,” says Giachetti. “Leaders like Art Dugoni and Pat Ferrillo, and faithful followers like us all have the same hopes and dreams for the school.” What could be more like family than trying to make things better for those who come after you?

Christina Boufis, PhD, is a freelance health and medical writer from the East Bay.

Sam Christensen ’05 | Teaching is in His DNA

Dr. Sam Christensen ’05 has taken an interesting career path to get where he is today—from middle-school science teacher to dental student to practitioner and now faculty member. In 2002, he was applying to dental school and working as a science teacher at Challenger Middle School in Sunnyvale. And 10 years later in 2012, he found himself back at Pacific as a row instructor, teaching fixed prosthodontics on Wednesdays. But little did he know that he would be teaching one of his former middle-school students.

“I was thrilled to find out that one of my former sixth-grade science students was a first-year student in the Class of 2015,” recounts Christensen. “As coincidence would have it, I was assigned as Adrienne Nguyen’s row instructor exactly 10 years from the last time I taught her in middle school.”  The bright, bubbly middle-school girl was now a first-year dental student. And Christensen’s path also crossed with another former middle-school student, Dr. Victoria Lim ’13, whom he saw in the Simulation Lab when she was a third-year student.

“He was one my favorite teachers, and looking back, he probably was the reason I pursued a science-related career,” says Adrienne Nguyen, Class of 2015. “I was surprised when I realized Dr. ‘C’ would be one of my instructors, but I was excited to become his student again, 10 years later. He hasn’t changed one bit. He is still a kid at heart, loves all things superheroes and still rocks the bold and crazy ties he wears to school.”

But how did Christensen make the transition from science teacher to dental professional?  Christensen attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. He thought he wanted to be a pediatrician and planned to go to medical school. “After graduation from LMU, I accepted a job teaching social studies at a private middle school in the Los Angeles area,” he said. “I thought of it as a temporary job because I was planning to go to medical school when I took the position and needed to finish my medical school prerequisites. I was as surprised as anyone that I enjoyed teaching and had an aptitude for that grade level. I was well suited to it.”

While teaching, Christensen worked in earnest on his prerequisites at California State University, Los Angeles, and then moved up north to Silicon Valley because his parents were there and he could begin studying for the MCATs full time while finishing some courses. “When I was back in the Bay Area, I took the MCATs, sent in my medical school applications and set up interviews,” said Christensen. Then, he accepted a job teaching science to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Challenger Middle School.

“I love opening kids’ eyes and taking seemingly complicated things and making them digestible,” Christensen says with enthusiasm. “I found that I could get eighth-graders to do organic chemistry as long it was explained to them in a way that was understandable. They did some physics and quantum mechanics, and those skills are very applicable to being a dentist. You need to put yourself in their position or you can’t relate to them or teach effectively. I don’t care how many credentials you have, if you cannot relate to your students you have no business being in front of a class.”

[pullquote]I love opening kids’ eyes and taking seemingly complicated things and making them digestible.[/pullquote]

Christensen started dating Jen—his future wife—and elected to switch gears. “We became engaged and even though Jen was willing to go to medical school with me, I decided that dentistry was more conducive to the lifestyle we wanted to have,” he said. “I called all of the medical schools and told them to remove my applications and told them I was going to dental school instead.”

At age 28, Christensen started as a first-year dental student at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and married Jen during his first week of school. He served as his class liaison for the American Dental Education Association. “As an older dental student, it helped having some more life perspectives,” said Christensen. “I had a skill set from teaching and that gave me the ability to relate to my instructors and patients a little differently. And I think that worked to my advantage.” As a student, Christensen also knew that he wanted to someday teach at the dental school. “I meet with Dr. Geissberger before I graduated and he offered me a position on the fixed faculty as a row instructor.”

Christensen owns Central Coast Dental, a restorative and aesthetic dentistry practice in Aptos, California, works as a row instructor in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences on Wednesdays and enjoys spending time with his wife Jen and their three children—Ellie (7), Luke (5) and Clark (17 months).

Working at the dental school provides Christensen not only with the opportunity to teach students but to interact with colleagues. “When you’re the boss in a small private practice, it’s nice to have a peer group of dental professionals to go to, such as other faculty members at the dental school.”

When asked why he enjoys teaching, Christensen replied, “The dental students keep you stimulated and it’s nice to see their fresh-faced enthusiasm. But what I enjoy the most is introducing dental students to the Dugoni School culture and being an ambassador for the profession.”

The Passionate Partnership of Margaret and Ron Redmond

By Josie Brown

For Dr. W. Ronald Redmond ’66 and his wife, Margaret, philanthropy is not a passive pursuit, but a passionate one. Many organizations have been recipients of their generosity, including the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, Casa Romantica Cultural Centers and Gardens in San Clemente and the University of California, Riverside. But the philanthropic endeavor second to none in their hearts is the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

For a quarter of a century, the Redmonds’ donations have been the driving force of much of the school’s philanthropic outreach. From 1998 to 2006, Ron chaired the largest donor drive in the history of the school: the Commitment to Excellence campaign, which raised in excess of $65 million.

[pullquote]There are three things important for me: family, career and fun, in that order. – Ron Redmond[/pullquote]

Besides being a former member of the Universitiy’s Board of Regents, Ron has served on the Pacific Dugoni Foundation for almost two decades. Along with Dr. Gary Weiner ’66, Mr. Gary Mitchell and Dr. Gabby Thodas ’77, ’95 Ortho, Ron is currently one of the four co-chairs for the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s Building Our Future, Embracing Our Legacy initiative, which will secure the purchase of the school’s seven-story new campus at 155 Fifth Street, between Mission and Howard Streets, in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) district.

Margaret is in full support of his endeavors on the school’s behalf. In fact, she jokingly says, “I love it! It gives me some time away from him.”

For this dynamic duo, the act of giving is much more intimate than merely opening a wallet. You’ll find the Redmonds at every school celebration, many times with other family members at their side. The table of Redmonds at the dental school’s last Legacy Ball is one example of this, as is their participation in the school’s Kids in the Klinic fundraising fashion show, which became a family rite of passage for the Redmonds’ grandchildren. They have also been active sponsors of the annual Kids in the Klinic Golf Classic.

Like most life journeys, the Redmonds’ path to philanthropy was a combination of happenstance, personal and shared experiences and their mutual appreciation of those institutions that have enriched their lives. “Margaret is my balance, my pendulum and my center,” Ron says. “If it were up to me alone, I’d give away the store. But Margaret has the ability to see the big picture. She is the visionary. I was lucky she fell in love with me.”

[pullquote]The philanthropic endeavor second to none in their hearts is the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.[/pullquote]

Margaret’s wise smile is all he needs to know she feels exactly the same way.

Their love affair might never have happened if it weren’t for Ron’s Ping-Pong skills. Or, more honestly, the lack thereof. “I thought he was cute because he let me beat him at Ping-Pong,” Margaret recalls. “And he loves dogs as much as I do. From an 18-year-old’s perspective, that certainly qualified him as the perfect man.”

As for Ron, he knew she was the right girl for him because, as he puts it, “She didn’t jump out of the car when I told her that someday I’d have a daughter named Susie, and a son named Billy.”

Both came from middle class working families in the Los Angeles area—Margaret is from San Gabriel and Ron is from Pomona—and both worked their way through college. Three years after their first meeting, they married in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Halloween. “We knocked on the minister’s door. His wife opened it and gave us a wary look,” Margaret says. Then she asked, ‘Aren’t you too old for this?’ We thought she was out of her mind! It wasn’t until two trick-or-treaters walked up behind us that we realized she’d gotten the wrong impression as to why we were there.”

The ring Ron gave Margaret was one he had purchased from a friend whose engagement had been broken. He set aside a little money each month until it was paid off. “I was so nervous about asking her to marry me that instead I asked her to look in the glove compartment of the car, where I had stashed the tiny velvet ring box.” His surprise was met with squeals of delight. “I had no idea if it would fit. I was relieved to see it did,” Ron says. “But when I asked her to put it back in the box, she said, ‘No way!’ It was our very first argument.”

Since then, it has been a 51-year love affair. “There are three things important for me: family, career and fun, in that order,” Ron says.

As for their shared passion for the Dugoni School of Dentistry, it started with a typographical error. “I’m a member of the Class of 1966. Of the original 66 students, by graduation, that number had dwindled to just 40,” Ron explains. “There was no counseling back then. It was sink or swim. We would have benefitted greatly from the humanistic model of education, which is practiced at the school today.” As with most trials by fire, a solidarity was forged between Ron and his classmates, which continues to this day. Despite their friendships and the rigorous education that prepared them for successful careers, neither Ron nor his classmates were motivated to give back to the school. Several years after graduation, when Ron purchased a subscription to the Trident, the school’s orthodontic alumni newsletter, it was incorrectly noted as a donation. He was teased by several of his classmates for having given to the dental school. “Of course, I explained the situation and laughed it off. But it got me thinking about all the wonderful things the school had brought into my life.”

[pullquote]Ron’s enthusiasm was contagious. Since that reunion, some of the school’s most ardent donors have been members of the Class of ’66.[/pullquote]

Looking back, the most important of these was his relationship with one of his instructors: Dr. Arthur Dugoni ’48. “Dean Dugoni was a part-time instructor teaching an undergraduate orthodontics course. One day he came over to me and asked, ‘What are you going to do when you graduate?’ I had already lined up a spot in a practice in Palo Alto, California, and had planned on being a crown-and-bridge man. ‘You’ll be successful there,’ he said, ‘But, I hope you’ll consider orthodontics.’ When I discussed his recommendation with Margaret, she responded, ‘Crown and bridge? No! He’s right. Ortho.’ I’ve later claimed that the two of them were in collusion.”

This wasn’t the case, but it turned out to be the right choice for Ron. “I love my career. I am driven by it.”

Ron’s passion for his profession rubbed off on two of their three children. Dr. William Redmond graduated from the dental school in 1993, as did Bill’s wife, Dr. Erini Papandreas Redmond ’93, who practices next door to her husband’s orthodontic clinic in San Clemente, California. Ron and Margaret’s second son, Dr. John Redmond, also graduated from Pacific in 1997.

In 1986, right before his 20-year class reunion, Dr. Christopher Palma ’66, one of Ron’s closest friends in dental school, passed away from a brain tumor. “He wanted to go to the reunion, but he didn’t make it,” Ron says. “As a way to honor him, I decided to match any donations made to the school by our class.”

By then, Dugoni was the dean of the dental school. As the Redmonds’ involvement grew, so did their friendship, respect and appreciation of him. “Art Dugoni has the ability to see talent in others, and many times, they don’t see it in themselves,” Ron explains. “He challenged me and got me involved in the school on many levels.”

Ron’s enthusiasm was contagious. Since that reunion, some of the school’s most ardent donors have been members of the Class of 1966. “Like me, they were inspired by Art’s vision of what the school could be, what it could do and how it can inspire. Along the way, we also became doctors.”

In 1995, when he was invited to join the school’s foundation board by then-president, Dr. Ken Fat, Ron jumped in with both feet. In 2000, when it was time for the public kick-off of the school’s most ambitious campaign to date, Commitment to Excellence, Ron, who was the campaign’s committee chair, led by example with an initial gift of $1 million. “It was meant to have shock value,” he explains. “Sure you can start a campaign with a major gift of, say, $25,000, but a million dollars changes the mood in the room. The number was supposed to be a catalyst, and it was. It worked.”

As the campaign’s chair, Ron knocked on numerous doors. Many of his solicitations were made in conjunction with then-Dean Dugoni. “When you take a long car ride with someone, you get to know him pretty well. Art’s knowledge of our profession and of our community runs deep, and is invaluable. He’s also one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. His own life story, as the son of immigrants, is an inspiration to us all.”

Ron learned something else, too. “There is no 30-second elevator speech, because each of us has a specific passion. Art taught me to listen to the needs of those who we solicited.” Ron took this advice to heart, as did the foundation board and the development staff. The campaign exceeded its $50 million goal, climbing to a record $65.7 million. In celebration of the campaign’s conclusion, the Redmonds gifted the school’s orthodontic department an additional $500,000.

Ron’s biggest joy came not from the success of the campaign, but in seeing his mentor honored in the best way possible. “One of the greatest joys of my life was when the school was renamed the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.”

[pullquote]Margaret has the ability to see the big picture. She is the visionary.[/pullquote]

As one of the four co-chairs of the Building Our Future, Embracing Our Legacy capital effort, Ron is once again leading by example with a $5 million pledge. “Margaret and I are very proud that the orthodontic floor within the new facility will be named in memory of her parents, John W. and Donna Ruth Fyke.”

He adds, “We have many generous and grateful graduates, and we know they’ll come through for the school. You have a diploma on your wall, but depending on your participation, that will become less valuable or more valuable. They realize an institution is not just a box, but it contains a group of talented people. Many of the giants in our lives are the educators we were blessed to encounter at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Giving generously to your school is the best way to honor those very special people who inspired you and who will inspire countless others.”

Needless to say, the Redmonds were thrilled when the school also changed the name of its foundation. “It made sense to rename it the Pacific Dugoni Foundation,” Ron explains. “When you combine those three words, you’ve pretty much got our mission.”


In their latest gesture of support for the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Dr. Ron Redmond ’66 and wife Margaret recently pledged a $5 million gift to support the purchase and renovation of the school’s new campus at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco.

The momentous gift was commemorated at a recent signing ceremony hosted by University of the Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck, Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr. and other members of the school’s administration.

“The generosity of Ron and Margaret will certainly make a tremendous impact on the next generation of Pacific Dugoni,” said Dean Ferrillo. “This is such an exciting gift that will support the creation of world-class new facilities to benefit our students, patients, faculty, staff, alumni and others. We thank them for their long-standing generosity to the school and commitment to philanthropy in so many forms.”


Josie Brown is the author of eight novels, including Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, soon to be a dramatic series on NBC-TV, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Dan O’Neill: Practicing Dentistry on the Frontline

If you graduated from dental school three decades ago, you might be at the point in your career where you’re starting to think about taking things a little easier and even looking ahead to retirement. On the other hand, if you’re Dan O’Neill ’81, you might find yourself in Afghanistan treating the men and women of the U.S. and coalition forces, including Bulgarian, Canadian, British, Spanish and French soldiers, as well as contractors.

After graduation, O’Neill took the Canadian boards and practiced in Canada for a year before turning to his hometown of Butte to start a private practice. He joined the Montana Army National Guard in 2008, after being informed that the Army Dental Corps was at a little more than 50% strength. It was a patriotic and adventurous opportunity for him.

The most inspiring benefit for O’Neill has been meeting and treating U.S. service men and women in all branches — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, especially those at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan. He has also volunteered to give a one-hour course on dental emergencies to all the medics and staff at the troop medical clinic (or TMC). His most interesting case, however, was not human. Recently he did an endodontic procedure on the canine… of a canine. The patient, one of the dogs belonging to the Special Forces, was treated successfully in one visit.

“It has been a terrific experience for me in a lot of little ways,” says O’Neill. Not that his service in Afghanistan wasn’t also nerve-wracking at times. “We have not received mortar or rocket attacks here at Camp Phoenix since I’ve been here, [but] some of our sister camps have on occasion.”

O’Neill currently remains in private practice and has a locum tenens dentist, retired from the Navy, covering the practice during his deployment. Future plans include attending the dental school’s annual Alumni Meeting and 30-year Class Reunion in March 2011 in San Francisco. No doubt he will have more interesting tales to tell!

Ai Streacker ’79: Watching for Wow Moments

“I want our students to be people that are sought out, rather than people seeking jobs.”

Department of Restorative Dentistry faculty member Dr. Ai Streacker ’79 has travelled the globe. He’s an avid scuba diver (has been since the age of 13); musician (tuba and guitar); and motorcycle collector (there are four in his garage right now). Indeed, his passions and hobbies have taken him far and wide. But one passion, perhaps the one with the greatest impact, is teaching.

Ai has been a full-time faculty member at the Dugoni School of Dentistry since 2003. With 23 years of private practice under his belt, he decided it was the right time to pursue teaching – something he’d hoped to do since he was an undergraduate.

In addition to clinic instruction, Ai serves as director of the First-Year Restorative Curriculum.  He’s also working with colleagues to fine tune and revise the entire preclinical curriculum, which will ensure Dugoni School students have a solid educational foundation before entering the clinic.

“I want to make sure our preclinical curriculum is fully up-to-date so our students are able to meet the challenges of clinic and a modern day workforce,” said Ai. “Upon graduation, I want our students to be people that are sought out, rather than people seeking jobs.”

As he’s been teaching for nearly a decade now, Ai has realized that the “wow moment” is his favorite part of the job. That wow moment — watching a figurative light bulb go on when students finally grasp a technique, a concept — is very real and happens at the dental school regularly.

“I see students struggle with techniques, but then there will be that one time when you see it click in their minds and they finally get it. From that point forward they have no more problems with that technique,” he said. “That’s what does it for me. I can see it happen and it’s remarkable.”

Ai clearly has strong ties to the Dugoni School of Dentistry. When asked if he thinks there’s anything that sets the Dugoni School apart from other dental schools, he’s quick to comment on the curriculum and the caliber of his colleagues, but he also recalled an incident from when he was applying to dental school back in the 70s.  After a day of interviews at a southern California school, a student approached him and said “If you can go to any other dental school, do it. You don’t want to come here.”  Of course, that’s not likely to happen at Pacific, and when Ai came to interview, students were welcoming and gregarious (much how they are today).

One thing Ai cares deeply about is human health and wellbeing. He’s extremely focused on a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise. His approach to caring for patients isn’t just to treat their oral health conditions, but to encourage a healthy lifestyle as well. This is also something he makes sure to teach his students — healthy mouths shouldn’t be the only priority of a dental professional. Dentists should try to encourage patients to be healthy in other ways too.

“Aside from practicing good dentistry, helping my patients achieve healthier lifestyles is something I’m very proud of,” he mentioned. “It was one of the more rewarding things I’ve done, and is something I’d love my students to embrace as well.”

Next year, Ai will assume the role of a practice leader under the Main Clinic’s new private practice model. In this role he’ll be able to work more closely with the students in his group, prepare them for life after dental school and hopefully have a lot of wow moments along the way.