“As Dugoni graduates, we understand the importance of giving something back.”
In the sunny town of Encinitas, located between Carlsbad and San Diego, Dr. Tom Keller ’97 has been busily building a successful practice in pediatric dentistry. But he wanted to do something more. Just before the March 2007 alumni weekend when his graduating class celebrated its 10-year reunion, Tom and his wife Kristen, a former kindergarten teacher, announced their decision to create the first-ever endowment in support of the dental school’s Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) program. SCOPE is a student-run organization that provides oral health education and services to children, adults and the elderly through countless community outreach efforts in the Bay Area and Central Valley.
Funding this endowment is an ambitious undertaking for a young couple who — along with their four boys, Jake, Taylor, Camden and Luke — are well on the way to creating their own Little League team. But anyone who talks to Tom learns quickly that he thrives on a challenge.
A third-year student at the time that SCOPE was created, Tom says that community outreach work made a lasting impression on his professional life.
“We frequently saw low-income patients in the school’s public clinic,” Tom explains, “But going out into the community and knowing how much of a difference the presence of our SCOPE team could make was a very exciting and gratifying experience.”
Tom has been proud, pleased and somewhat amazed by the growth of SCOPE. “It is a program that exemplifies the spirit of giving back that Art Dugoni spoke about from our first day of school. It’s part of a humanistic model of teaching that, clearly, Dean Ferrillo has continued.”
Along with all his other commitments, Tom spends one Saturday a month at a community clinic near Encinitas. In addition, he volunteers at a local children's hospital as part of a “Share the Care” program.
“A lot of my classmates hold this same philosophy,” Tom explains, “As Dugoni graduates, we understand the importance of giving something back.”
About the creation of the Tom D. Keller/SCOPE Endowment, he says, “I’m certain that in the not too distant future, more of my classmates will be creating gifts and endowments of their own. Pacific gave us a very special education. We are engaged and dedicated practitioners today because of the training we received.”
After dental school, Tom pursued a residency in pediatric dentistry at Northwestern University. “Ironically,” he explains, “I was there when Northwestern closed its school of dentistry. I learned then how special Pacific was. In fact, the two schools could not have been more different. I value the positive environment of Pacific. It’s a tradition of greatness that we must all do our part to continue.”