Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, PhD
Message to the Class of 2021
Congratulations to the West Virginia University School of Dentistry Dental Hygiene, DDS, and Post Graduate Classes of 2021!
We are so proud of your accomplishments and perseverance in achieving your goals during one of the most disordered times in our nation's history. You remained focused on your challenging educational program despite months of COVID-19 pandemic, social, and political turbulence. We have collectively navigated the often-uncharted waters since March of 2020; I, as well as the faculty and staff, are tremendously proud to see everyone complete their respective programs and graduate today. Your commitment and patience as we resolved many unforeseen issues during your final months of academic and clinical work were exemplary. Uncertainties were many - resuming clinical operations, lock-downs impacting our patients, and reverting to virtual teaching methods, yet you met each challenge brilliantly, making you ready for anything as you embark on the next stage of your careers.
We want to recognize and thank you for your resiliency, professionalism, adaptability, and, most of all, trust. These and other traits you displayed allowed the school to implement and deliver the educational program necessary to deem you competent, enabling you to transition to the next chapter of your professional careers confidently. You and your families have so much to be proud of as you celebrate graduation. You have worked hard for many years, and I hope you use your vast array of experiences to make a valued, lasting impact on our profession.
We hope that you will look back fondly on your time here and stay in touch. We genuinely want to know how you are doing, help cheer you on, and support you in your professional journey.
The Greeks have a tradition when a person achieves something of note – they shout "AXIOS," which means "he/she is worthy" of the achievement. I want to thank your class for being my first graduates as the interim dean of our school; you made my job so much easier. To you all, on behalf of the entire SOD community, we proclaim "AXIOS"!
Be well, be safe, take care of each other, and Let's Go!