Donors and Scholars Connect at Annual Ceremony

From left, Dr. Alice Chao, Dr. Samuel Quek and Nicole Cullen.

Alumni and others shared memories of those whose lives were honored through RSDM scholarships last month at an event for donors and  student recipients.

Nearly $100,000 in funds were awarded to 40 students at the ceremony, sponsored by the RSDM Alumni Association.

RSDM’s Dr. Asha Samant presented a scholarship in memory of Dr. Rita Vermani Mehra, a close friend of hers for more than 40 years. They met at dental school in India during the early 1960s, when the two women, both from the same town in India’s Punjab region, were in their teens.

Mehra was determined to succeed in her profession when the obstacles against women entering dentistry were great, said Samant. After receiving her degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dentistry in the U.K., she became a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University before arriving at RSDM.

“She was totally dedicated to teaching and loved her students,” remembers Samant, Class of ’81.

The Dr. Rita Vermani Mehra Scholarship was established by Mehra’s children and is awarded to a female student with a GPA of 3.5 or greater who has an interest in research and dental materials.  This year’s recipient was Maria Bender, Class of ’18.

Dr. Phillip Wolfson, Class of ’74, presented a scholarship in honor of his father, Dr. Edward Wolfson, an RSDM professor, who wrote two books about the dental profession,  including the 1974 treatise “Four Handed Dentistry,” which became a best seller among dentists, translated into 11 languages.

Later that year, Edward Wolfson  switched genres to work on a mystery novel, “Appointment for Murder,” which featured a dentist protagonist. “I have no doubt he would have published it had he not died that year, before it was complete,” said Phillip Wolfson, Class of ’74.  The Edward Wolfson DDS Endowed Scholarship, awarded to a student who demonstrates outstanding character and has exemplary academic performance, was given to Blaze Fraser, Class of ’18.

At the ceremony, RSDM’s Dr. Samuel Quek and his wife, Dr. Alice Chao, presented a scholarship named for their son, Andrew Jia Ren Quek, who died in 2013. Andrew was a University of Delaware student who passed away at the age of 23, a few months after receiving his degree in accounting. His classmates at the university, where he was a resident assistant, described him as a kind-hearted person who went out of his way to make strangers feel welcome.

“Andrew had the largest heart and an upbeat personality with an infectious smile. He touched so many lives and will always be remembered as a selfless, hard-working, cheerful and kind man,” his  fraternity brother, Mark Adelman, was quoted as saying in the University of Delaware’s campus paper.

The scholarship in his name, awarded to a second year student in the top ten percent of their class, was presented to Nicole Cullen, Class of ’20.