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Niña-Cecilia Santos, School of Dentistry
Niña-Cecilia Santos is a big believer in teamwork. So when you commend her for the accomplishments of being UMB’s student remarker, a soon-to-be graduate of the School of Dentistry, and for leading numerous successful initiatives as the school’s Class of 2015 president for an unprecedented four straight years, she credits everyone but herself.
Friends, colleagues, and family members all get a major callout from Santos, who is thrilled to be chosen to speak for UMB’s Class of 2015. “Simple communication is the key to being a great dentist, and that’s ultimately what I hope to do on May 15 — communicate with my colleagues, their friends and family, and with the professors of our University,” she says.
She’s communicated with the dental school class for four years as class president. “You know, I’m proud of my class,” she says. “Make no mistake: we are a team, and everything we’ve accomplished, we’ve accomplished as a team. I am constantly inspired by my executive board and the service we’ve done and hope to continue to do after graduation. Together, our class has worked tirelessly with community service organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Special Smiles Special Olympics, and other local nonprofit groups. I was humbled and honored to serve as a class liaison between our administration and our class, and to serve in making decisions that would affect us.”
Among her favorite memories has been sending out “Dental Dailies” — short email blasts with helpful tips and tricks. “Through these, I tried to foster a sense of unity and class pride. I thought about what I wanted or needed help with, and tried to provide that information to everyone. I’ve also led my peers in helping the greater Baltimore community through service, fundraising, and outreach. We’ve had really great successes with raising funds through bake sales and other events and we’ve also led and participated in improving our new clinic in conjunction with our new dean.”
After graduation Santos looks forward to continuing her service as the newest partner at Dental Designs of White Marsh, a cosmetic and family dental practice.
She’s come a long way since being born in the Philippines, and coming to the U.S. with her parents (her mom a nurse; her dad a physician) as a small child. They molded what she is today, she says.
“Through them, I saw firsthand the need for access to dental care, as they both suffered from severe periodontal disease from a very young age. They told me stories about dentistry in the Philippines and how their dentist would provide care even for people who were too poor to afford it.
“My parents worked so hard to give myself and my sister everything we needed to succeed. While I took my piano lessons and played my new cello, my mom and dad were working extra shifts at the hospital. Whenever I needed new books, or a new tennis racket, my parents were there for me. They sacrificed everything they had to make sure my sister and I received a good foundation for our future. Seeing their work ethic and their selflessness pushed me to work just as hard. This is something I cannot, and will not, forget as I move on with my practice.”