July 18, 2009
Good morning. I am Dr. Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr., dean at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of all the faculty, staff, and students.
The White Coat Ceremony symbolizes another step in the life of these fantastic young people. They began their journey last year. Some schools have the ceremony when the students enter. We choose to do it when they begin the most intensive part of their program, beginning in the second year, as they begin patient care. They began this week. I am sure it was an exciting, challenging week for them, and will continue to be so. They have been well prepared, working incredibly hard during the past year. I am sure they called you many times in the evenings and told you how hard they were working.
The faculty has done an extraordinary job as well in helping prepare these very bright and gifted people. Today, we are here to celebrate their next step - beginning patient care. Two years from now, we will be celebrating the completion of their education and turning them out into the world as competent young oral healthcare providers.
I thank you, the families, for all the support you have given them this past year and will continue to give during the coming years. Without your support, the challenge would have been even greater for them.
I want to talk about professionalism in terms of the whole person. In my career, I have had the opportunity to come in contact with some people, who are extraordinary role models - what I look at as the complete picture of a professional person.
Recently, unfortunately, one of our faculty members passed away, Dr. Dudley Cheu. Some of you knew him, some of you, like myself, did not have the opportunity to truly get to know him. He balanced what it means to be a professional. My experience with Dr. Cheu was brief because we were always busy, he probably busier than I was when he came to school. I often ran into him very early in the morning on the elevators because he would arrive at the school early. He always had an excitement - his excitement was to be there, to impart his knowledge on our students. He pushed the students to learn and do as much as they possibly could while they were here, and he was excited to do that. He always had a smile - always filled with an incredible energy. That is my image of Dr. Cheu. He enjoyed being an educator. He wanted to impart his experience and knowledge onto all the students.
Last week on Sunday, there was a celebration of Dr. Cheu's life where family and friends came together, about 400 people, at a beautiful setting in Marin County at a park in the garden. People came there to celebrate his life. At that time, I got to learn more and more about him, listening to his friends who got up and talked about him. What I learned about Dudley was that he was a great professional. He cared about his patients; he cared about you, the students. He also cared very much about his family, his wife Genevieve, his two sons Jason and Derek, and daughter-in-laws, and grandchildren. They were all part of his life. What it says is he balanced his professional life and his personal life. He did it extraordinarily well.
The love that was in that garden was extraordinary. He interacted with his friends. He never lost his sense of humor. He always kept prodding them along - he was the jokester to get things going. He enjoyed life in the bigger realm too, the globe. He travelled around the world. He travelled to Southeast Asia. During those trips, it was not only for pleasure, but to impart knowledge, to help people, to learn from what he could offer, to hopefully help them out to make their lives better. He enjoyed life as well. He loved to eat and he loved to drink wine. He had richness in his life.
Sometimes we all forget about that. I am as guilty as anyone - to be able to balance my professional life, my personal life, and all the other things that go on in the world. So, enjoy life — enjoy what you are doing — enjoy your patients — enjoy your family — enjoy the world. That is probably what I learned from Dr. Cheu. People all have a purpose when they are brought into this world. Perhaps his purpose was to leave that message. So take that memory and think about it as you pursue your life.
So I say to you, enjoy today — enjoy your family this weekend. By the way, we will see you Monday morning, bright and early, to do the other part of your professional life. Enjoy your wonderful day here in San Francisco. Thank you all for taking the time to be here with us today.