The "circle of life" continues to amaze me as I enjoy the journey of my 60th year.

It is one of those amazing coincidences in life that Debbie and I will be traveling to Philadelphia to speak at the Academy of General Dentistry's annual meeting.

As many of you know, I started my dental school career in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1974. The pathway back to the United States was uncharted at that time. Amazingly, a "parachute" opened and I somehow landed in my junior year at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. The letter that was given to me said I was an "educational experiment."

A student transferring from a foreign dental school directly into an American school had never been permitted. But here I was knocking on the dean's office door that fateful day in June of 1977. I can still remember the secretary, Sandra Scott, who was so kind as to ask if I wanted to wait inside the air conditioned office while waiting for the dean. That feeling of kindness she imparted gave me hope that this school might just give me an opportunity that I dreamed of.

Within minutes Mrs. Scott had the dean's attention. In the next couple of hours my life would be changed forever. Somehow Dr. Jay Seibert had the courage to give me the opportunity of a lifetime. Only now, many years later, I have begun to understand what the letter meant when it said, "and all the privileges that come with being a member of the Penn Alumni."

It is now 33 years since I graduated from dental school into a life I could never have imagined. Being the first in your family to graduate from college was great, but getting a doctorate from an Ivy League school was not even in my family's wildest imagination.

So here I am looking at the calendar and seeing June 23rd's entry. That day, Deb and I will be returning to Philadelphia where we went to school, met and wed. However, this time I will have the honor of addressing my colleagues in a seminar, "Dentistry: The greatest success story never told. How quality of life drives cost and innovation in oral health care."

Our seminar is about oral health care but, in reality, it is about our community. Oral health care does not exist without the patients that it serves. For us, the confidence that folks have had in us is what makes what we are going to talk about so important.

It is our community that has embraced this new vision in oral health care that allows us to present to the rest of the dental profession what one community is doing about the future of oral health and overall health.

How fitting that we would be asked to speak and that the meeting would be in, of all places, Philadelphia. The circle of life seems to be closing upon itself and encompassing our new home in Arizona.

Enjoy the journey,


E-mail Bob Oro at