Convocation Profile: Celebrating the Dentistry Class of 2016 with Jonathan Sanderson

Jonathan Sanderson, Dentistry Class of 2016

A mighty pursuit

The air at Thompson Arena was tense as the Mighty Dents headed into the final period of the 2016 ODA President’s Hockey Cup Classic against the University of Toronto. Despite the team’s best efforts, the score was not in their favour.

As Schulich Dentistry’s hockey team, hopes and expectations were high for the players to bring the ODA Cup back to the School, having suffered two heartbreaking losses in a row. Hundreds of supporters turned up to see the epic matchup play out.

Team co-captain Jonathan Sanderson, Dentistry Class of 2016, remembers the atmosphere as the players took the ice. “We were losing, but we could feel the momentum changing,” he said. “The confidence was growing on the bench and the crowd could feel it, the cheers were getting louder.”  

As luck – and perseverance – would have it, the Mighty Dents walked away victorious, ending the game with a final score of 4-3 over their rivals.

“It was pure elation,” Sanderson said with a grin. “Helmets were off, everyone crowded around the goalie, the crowd was cheering and cameras were flashing. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

The moment was all the more special for its perfect timing. A fourth-year student, Sanderson is one of six Mighty Dents set to graduate from Schulich Dentistry on June 17, alongside their classmates in the doctor of dental surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and general practice residency programs.

Bringing the Cup home was the 25-year-old’s final wish before leaving the School’s familiar hallways behind.

Creating community

Sanderson grew up in Branchton, Ontario, a small town south of Cambridge, and will be the first dentist in his family of business owners. He completed a bachelor of health sciences at Wester University in 2012, and was drawn to the dental profession by the appeal of helping people, working with his hands and maintaining a balanced, family-focused lifestyle

He’s thankful for his time at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, particularly the relationships he formed with his classmates during four years of ups and downs, struggles and achievements.

“The day we entered the program, we were referred to as colleagues, and that never changed throughout our four years together,” said Sanderson.

The class camaraderie was also enhanced by a larger sense of belonging. “We’ve gained a community by graduating from Schulich Dentistry – not only our own class, but the faculty, alumni and other dental professionals,” he explained.

Sanderson helped foster this same sense of community at the School as a volunteer and co-executive of Oral Health, Total Health’s Sharing Smiles Day. The annual event aims to address barriers faced by special needs patients and create space for building positive relationships.

“For me, the best part of Sharing Smiles was hearing about the impact we had on the participants’ confidence in going to the dentist,” he said. “Each year I was involved, it hit home about why we need to educate and advocate for inclusive oral health care for all our community members.”

Lasting memories

It seems Sanderson’s classmates hold his sports and community leadership in high esteem. He was named co-Valedictorian and will be delivering a valedictory speech as part of Schulich Dentistry’s graduation festivities.

He is proud to represent his peers at this pivotal stage in their careers and looks forward to celebrating the professional successes to come. “I’d send my future kids to any one of my classmates to have their teeth looked at,” he said with a laugh. “It’s going to be bittersweet saying goodbye. I’ve enjoyed watching everyone mature as clinicians, professionals and individuals, and have the utmost confidence in them.”

Come July, Sanderson will be making his own transition to a professional setting. He is joining a general dental practice in Ilderton, north of London.  

And while he is ready for the new experiences and challenges ahead, he is holding onto the 2016 ODA Cup game puck as a reminder of the people, lessons, memories and that unforgettable win on home ice.

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry congratulates Jonathan and the entire Dentistry Class of 2016 on their incredible achievements during the past four years and on their graduation.