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Dr. Summerhays: 'Seize the moment'

November 18, 2015

By Jennifer Garvin

New president: Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays and her husband, Soames Summerhays, during her Nov. 10 installation. Photo by EZ Event Photography
Washington — Growing up, Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays was teased for her buck teeth. A visit to the orthodontist changed everything and set her on a path to service and helping others.

On Nov. 10, 2015, the self-described former "ugly duckling" stood smiling as she was installed as the 152nd president of the ADA.

"Orthodontic treatment changed my facial profile, occlusion and self-esteem. It changed my life," said Dr. Summerhays, of San Diego.

During the House of Delegates, the new president called dentistry's power to improve health and change lives the "heart of the profession" and promised a year filled with possibilities.

"My message to you is this: to seize the moment together," she said. "Embrace challenges and opportunities. Make the most of possibilities that lie ahead."

Dr. Summerhays knows about making the most of opportunity. Her father, who was born in the Philippines but came to the U.S. as a child, used to tell her the streets were paved with gold.

"I can still hear him telling me, 'Anything is possible here.' "

For her term as president Dr. Summerhays said she hopes to transform the Association while making sure we "stay true to our core values."

"What we have in front of us is an incredible opportunity, worth far more than gold," she said.

In her speech Dr. Summerhays also stressed advocating for dental students and listening to their concerns about licensure and student loans.

She also singled out the ADA Foundation Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center and the standards produced by the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics and the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Products for making a difference in dentists' lives.

The "Power of Three" — defined as the local, state and national levels of dentistry working together to help every member dentist succeed — was another metaphor for something greater than the sum of its parts.

"The face of dentistry is changing," she said, "and we need to ask ourselves how we can change and welcome every dentist regardless of demographic or career choice as equal members of the profession."

In closing, Dr. Summerhays shared a letter she received from a patient who wanted the Association to know how special she considered her dentist, Dr. Thomas Myatt of Reno, Nevada.

"His care, concern and consideration is a quality far unsurpassed," wrote patient Laurie Goldsmith, 87, who thought the Association would be "proud to know about this terrific role model."

As she folded the letter, Dr. Summerhays nodded in affirmation. "Yes, Mrs. Goldsmith, we are very proud to know about this role model. He exemplifies the values we hold so dear."