Student Spotlight: 100 Days Until Graduation

Feb. 19 officially marked that our DMD class of 2021 is 100 days away from graduation! 

In celebration, over the course of the 100 days we’ll be featuring our graduating seniors’ accomplishments as part of a spotlight series. Each week, a new feature article will be added to this page and highlighted on our FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram pages.

If you would like to be included in this recognition, complete the brief questionnaire and submit your favorite professional photo. 


Ruhi Patel

Favorite quote: "Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you're proud to live." —Anne Sweeney

Headshot of Ruhi Patel

Fourth-year dental student Ruhi Patel was introduced to the dental profession at a young age by her aunt, which would eventually lead her on a career journey to become a dentist herself. 

When it came time to choose a dental school, Patel developed a strong connection to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine through her interview process. 

“During my interview, I felt more connected to faculty and staff here at Case Western Reserve than any other dental school,” said Patel. “Additionally, the reputation of the clinical experience was incomparable to any other dental school I interviewed.”

While Patel is looking forward to her next chapter in dentistry, she will miss the people and life-long relationships she made during her time in dental school. After graduation, she is continuing her education by attending a General Practice Residency program. 


Nivien Masoud

Favorite quote: "Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." —Thomas A. Edison

D4 student Nivien Masoud

Nivien Masoud, president of the Class of 2021, discovered her passion for dentistry after working as a dental assistant at a local dentist office in Chicago. She then went on to complete a degree in dental hygiene before moving to Cleveland and working for her brother-in-law at his dental practice.

“What excites me the most is the impact dentistry has on people’s quality of life and self-esteem,” said Masoud. “I want to be a part of the team that makes a difference in someone’s life with my hand skills and knowledge.”

Masoud first became interested in Case Western Reserve University after her friends in Cleveland spoke highly of the university, and she was impressed with the easy-going nature of the interview process. She also attributes the minimal traffic the city has in comparison to Chicago as an influencing factor. 

Throughout her time with the School of Dental Medicine, her favorite memory is playing soccer and ping-pong with her classmates in between study breaks during some of the most stressful times. While she is looking forward to commencement, Masoud will miss her friends, mentors, faculty and staff, as well as the time spent conducting dental research with her close friends. “I will especially miss my student council members who worked so hard to help everyone get through dental school.”

After graduation, Masoud plans to complete a one-year General Practice Residency program at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland—and also plans to travel the world with her mother.


Melanie Adelstein

Favorite quote: "There's nothing wrong with asking for what you deserve." —Alexis Rose

D4 student Melanie Adelstein

For fourth-year DMD student Melanie Adelstein, dentistry is a family business. Despite her father and grandfather both being dentists, Adelstein did not enjoy visiting the dentist growing up. However, her interest in healthcare and learning how the body works led her on a path to following her family’s footsteps. 

“I realized dentistry is a mix of learning about the body, while being able to physically do something with my hands every day,” said Adelstein. “The patient interactions are also unmatched, as this is a healthcare profession that I am able to spend a lot of time talking to patients.”

When it came time to choose a dental school, Adelstein was familiar with Case Western Reserve University since her father and grandfather both attended the university's dental program. “I knew my dad was so proud and honored when I told him it was a school I was interested in.”

Over the course of her dental education, her favorite memory involved time spent with her classmates cleaning out their lockers at the end of their second year, racing after her friends as they pushed each other in a giant wheeling cart and laughing the entire way. Adelstein reminisced that she will miss her classmates, Dr. Jenkins, her “circus” girls and living within 100 feet of Corbo’s. 

After graduation, Adelstein is attending the General Practice Residency program at Loyola University Medical Center and then plans to join her father’s dental practice.


Joel Missentzis

Favorite quote: "It’s the beauty within us that makes it possible for us to recognize the beauty around us. The question is not what you look at but what you see." —Henry David Thoreau

DMD student Joel Missentzis with wife and children

Giving back to the community is what fuels fourth-year DMD student Joel Missentzis’ passion for dentistry. Growing up, he remembers local dentists visiting his school, attributing this experience as the start to his interest in the field.

“I can remember dentists coming to my school and having us chew those pink tablets showing us plaque and tartar,” said Missentzis. “I always wanted to be able to do things like that and help uplift the community.”

Missentzis was drawn to Case Western Reserve University because of the School of Dental Medicine’s track record of producing clinicians with great hand skills due to the critical experience students receive working with patients throughout their postgraduate career.

Looking back over his time in dental school, his favorite memory is when he and his classmates practiced numbing each other for the first time. “It was a nerve wracking experience, possibly literally.” He also noted he will miss playing football in the luncheon with his friends, colleagues and professors. 

After graduation, Missentzis will be joining a family dental practice in Flint, Michigan. 


Jodie Smith 

Favorite quote: "Today, you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." —Dr. Seuss

Fourth-year DMD student Jodie Smith in front of Samson Pavilion

The opportunity to spread oral health education and awareness in Guatemala made a significant impact on fourth-year DMD student Jodie Smith—reinforcing her passion and drive to make a difference through dentistry.

After arriving at a school in Comitancillo, Smith was shocked by the lack of attention that went to oral health. When asked how often the students brushed their teeth, only a few answered. No one responded when she asked if anyone had been to a dentist. 

“As I handed out toothbrushes, a timid girl named Isa tried to speak to me,” recalled Smith. “I had trouble hearing her because she kept her hand to her mouth out of embarrassment of how her teeth looked in comparison to mine. Seeing her broke my heart, but I reassured Isa that there was nothing wrong with her and that I would dedicate the rest of my life to helping people just like her.”

This experience brought home Smith’s realization of how much her self-image stemmed from teeth crafted by her dentist—and the impact she could make in this profession. She noted that patients not only trust their general dentists to fix oral issues, but are allowing someone to be close enough to put their hands in their mouths and have full control on how their oral cavity will look once they step out of the chair. 

“Looking back on my journey, I recognize that the artfulness and the complexity in general practice were driving forces for me as a dental student,” said Smith. “Today, I can say with confidence that I want to be the general dentist handing a toothbrush over to a timid girl after making her smile a little brighter.”

During her time at the School of Dental Medicine, Smith’s favorite memory is participating in Give Kids a Smile Day. She also shared how much she’ll miss working with and learning from her patients. Upon graduating, Smith will join the General Practice Residency program with Bellevue Hospital.


Justin McCray

Favorite quote: "First it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” —James Hudson Taylor

Headshot of DMD student Justin McCray

Justin McCray, fourth-year DMD student, attributes a text he received from his father during his freshman year of college, prompting him to spend time researching career possibilities to find his true passion, as the impetus for what led him to dentistry.

“I loved the thought of interacting with a diverse population every day, and using science and art to provide confidence and care,” said McCray. 

During his sophomore year of undergraduate studies, McCray participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to all he learned, what stood out the most is the caliber of people within the School of Dental Medicine and the resources available to help students thrive. “I knew if I were to be accepted here, then there would be no limit to what I could accomplish.”

McCray shared how much he cherished the experience of learning and interacting with some of the brightest minds in dentistry, who are also the most warm and friendly people. Despite the busy curriculum, there is a joy and enthusiasm radiating through the halls—creating a culture that allowed him to excel and grow as a clinician.

McCray’s favorite memory at the dental school is when his family visited Cleveland from Mississippi for the White Coat Ceremony.

“This was such a special day for us as a family, because we could see all of the hard work and sacrifices we made finally being rewarded,” he said. “I can remember seeing the joy on their faces and how proud they were of the opportunity at hand. To be able to share that moment with them meant everything to me. They are the reason I am the person that I am today.”

After graduation, McCray is staying in Cleveland to begin specialty training in the Pediatric Dentistry program at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. 


Bri Ruszkiewicz

Favorite quote: "Don't be afraid of failure. This is the way to succeed." —LeBron James

Headshot of Bri Ruszkiewicz

For fourth-year DMD student Bri Ruszkiewicz, her passion for dentistry stems from a drive to help others. 

“I enjoy being able to help patients and make them feel good about themselves by improving their smiles, relieving their dental pain and improving their health,” said Ruszkiewicz. 

When thinking back over her time at the School of Dental Medicine, the accomplishment of drilling on a real tooth for the first time stands out as her favorite memory. Ruszkiewicz noted that she will miss the fun times and memories shared with classmates—whether it was late nights in the simulation and west lab to practice and complete projects, or treating patients together for the first time in the clinic. 

Ruszkiewicz is attending the general practice residency at Carilion Clinic in Virginia after graduation.


Jin Yeop Jason Kim

Favorite quote: “Be humble.”

Headshot of Jin Jason Kim

Jin Yeop Jason Kim, student council president, invested quite a bit of time exploring what career path was right for him before landing on dental medicine. 

“I learned that dentistry is the only thing I can see myself doing for the rest of my life,” said Kim, noting that he enjoys the everyday challenges the field presents. 

When it came time to choose a dental school, he credits the stand-out interview experience at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, and the August Cleveland weather, for swaying his decision. Throughout his academic career, some of Kim’s fondest memories are traveling and exploring new places with the friends and colleagues he met at the dental school. 

After graduation, Kim is attending the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at the Grady Hospital in Atlanta. While he is looking forward to this next chapter, he will miss the many friends, mentors, faculty and staff members who made a great impact on his dental career.