Dental students enjoy first day at ECU

ECU dental students make the pirate hook sign as they surround Dr. Ledyard Ross and his wife, Alta, during the first day of dental school orientation at ECU. The Rosses have pledged $4 million to the new school. Photos by Cliff Hollis

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Aug. 15, 2011)   —   Maggie Nelms loved her undergraduate years at East Carolina University, and she wanted her dental school tuition to stay in her home state. Thus, the newest dental school in the state was her logical choice.”I wanted my money to go to North Carolina, and I just couldn’t see my money going to Chapel Hill,” she said. 

Nelms was one of 52 new dental students who got their first taste of school today as the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine welcomed its inaugural class.

“It’s a great day to be a pirate and a great day to be part of East Carolina University,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard. He encouraged students to remember the support the state has given the school and the commitment ECU has made to serve the state.

Students have a full week of orientation events, including an afternoon of service Thursday. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 22.

Student Philip Cochran of Washington, a graduate of N.C. State University and ECU, said he chose ECU for dental school because it is in eastern North Carolina, where dental care is often lacking.

“I definitely want to practice somewhere in the eastern part of the state, so it made sense to come to a school that had the same goals I had,” he said.

Nelms, of Nashville, voiced the same desire to serve her state after school. “I’m so grateful and so excited and so ready to serve North Carolina,” she said.

Dr. Roslyn Crisp, president of the Old North State Dental Society, praised the mission of the new school to work in underserved areas of the state and educate dentists who want to stay in the state to practice.

“I’ve been in dentistry 33 years, and in my opinion this is the best thing to happen to dentistry in North Carolina since I’ve been here,” said Crisp, a pediatric dentist with offices in Burlington and Yanceyville.