New dentist discusses becoming University of Maryland dental school’s first black summa cum laude

Dr. Tera Poole sheds a tear as she gives a commencement speech as class president last month at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Minutes before the speech, Dr. Poole had learned she was summa cum laude. Days later, she would find out she became the first black summa cum laude recipient in the world’s first dental school.

Dr. Tera Poole sheds a tear as she gives a commencement speech as class president last month at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Minutes before the speech, Dr. Poole had learned she was summa cum laude. Days later, she would find out she became the first black summa cum laude recipient in the world’s first dental school.

Baltimore — Known as the first dental school in the world, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry made more history in May when it graduated its first black summa cum laude winner after 176 years.

Dr. Tera Poole, of Ohio, told ADA News that the significance of her accomplishment didn’t sink in until the messages from younger students started coming in.

“When I found out, to me, it was more, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool. It’s a nice fun fact,’” she said.

“I’m hearing from a lot of minority students in the health care field who say they’re looking up to me,” she said. “Now, it’s something more. Now I’m really appreciating it.”

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