Crisp addresses graduates

The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2024 celebrated Convocation on May 3 with an inspiring message from Dr. H. Alex Crisp, a member of the school’s inaugural Class of 2015.

Dr. Alex Crisp addresses the Class of 2024 during Convocation on May 3. (Photos by Jon Jones)

Crisp, who practices oral and maxillofacial surgery in Burlington and Raleigh, also serves as part-time faculty at the school’s community service learning center in Davidson County. He shared a message during the ceremony in Mendenhall Student Center’s Hendrix Theatre.

In his introduction of Crisp, School of Dental Medicine Dean Dr. Greg Chadwick said Crisp has “clearly set the standard for our school.”

Crisp graduated as part of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honor Society and completed the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency program at the Medical University of South Carolina.

At the start of his address, Crisp looked out at the audience — the Class of 2024, their families, faculty, staff, guests and administrators — and paused.

“I want to take in this moment,” he said. “This is something really awesome to me.”

Crisp praised the class for its unusual beginning to dental school in 2020 — starting with the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want you all to think back to August 2020 and think back to how so many things were uncertain at that time,” Crisp said. “Yet and still, there was one thing that was certain back in August of 2020, and that was you. You guys made a conscious decision to put it all on yourselves and take a risk and invest in yourselves that one day maybe just four years from now, you’d be sitting in these seats getting ready to become Doctors of Dental Medicine. And for that, I am so inspired and impressed. I truly believe that investment is about to come multiple times over to you.”

Crisp talked about lessons learned from mentors and family members over the years, including interpreting the meaning of the ‘key to success,’ and how it may mean different things to different people but always includes the necessity to react to life’s unforeseen challenges.

“It’s not a matter of what happens, but it’s a matter of how you respond that defines who you are,” he said. “… Think back to when you wrote your personal statement and the things that you said in terms of why you want to be a public servant, why you want to help your fellow man, why you want to be a dentist specifically, and let that be your compass.”

Members of the Class of 2024 take their seats before Convocation in Hendrix Theater on May 3.

Crisp concluded his remarks by urging the class to remember to leave the past behind, to cherish every second and to understand that nothing is impossible.

“Impossible is just something that hasn’t been done yet,” he said, reiterating the feat of going through dental school during the pandemic. “From my perspective, you get a 10 out of 10. I could not be more proud of you.”

Dr. Nicole Beasley ’16, assistant director of the school’s community service learning center in Ahoskie, led the class in the recitation of its Class Pledge, after which Dr. Paul Lindauer was presented the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Class of 2024.

Lindauer said he looked forward to seeing the great things that the class would accomplish in the profession of dentistry.

“I’m very humbled by this and accept it on behalf of all my fellow faculty members who have contributed to your education,” he told the class. “It takes a village, and I’m just one of those that was privileged to be on the front lines…. That’s the thing that gives me energy, the thing that gets this guy wanting to jump out of bed and come to work each morning, is to be with each one of you, because you just refresh my soul and invigorate me and want to do my best and take my game up to the highest possible level to give you everything possible to make you the greatest success.”

Chadwick also congratulated the Class of 2024 and sent them off with closing words.

“You have changed and grown since you arrived at dental school,” he said. “In many ways, you are a different person, but we hope the one thing that has not changed is the enthusiasm and passion that you have for helping people in North Carolina…. That day has come, and you are now a dentist. You have earned the opportunity to fulfill that dream.”