March 4, 2009

Leaders of the Pack

For the first time, two women are serving as dental school class presidents

By Julie Flaherty

Leadership comes naturally for some people. Meghann Dombroski, D10, was president of her high school class and took on several leadership roles in college. She later vowed, “I am not doing this in dental school.” That promise lasted about two years.

And because of her lack of willpower, for the first time in Tufts Dental School history, two women—Dombroski and Inga Keithly, D12—are serving as class presidents.

Inga Keithly, D12, left, and Meghann Dombroski, D10, are class presidents at the School of Dental Medicine. Photo: Alonso Nichols

The women emphasize that they and the rest of their executive councils work as teams to represent their classes. For the D10 council, one accomplishment has been to help seniors with their licensing exams; seniors typically have to find their own assistants to help them during their exams. To save reluctant spouses and roommates from being pressed into service, the executive council came up with a program that pairs seniors with second-year students willing to lend a hand.

“Karma is very crucial in dental school,” Dombroski says. “We helped the D08s, hoping that the D12s will do the same for us. It’s trickled down because the D11s are helping the D09s.” That same message is reflected in the fundraising and community service initiatives the class has undertaken. “The more you give, the more you are going to get back. We’ve really been trying to preach that as a class,” she says.

Balancing her leadership responsibilities with her class work was not as anxiety-filled as you might think, in part because she saved her deepest concern for her husband, Aaron, a soldier who was deployed in Iraq during her entire sophomore year. “It really put things in perspective for me,” she says. “The least of the problems in my life was a 50-question quiz.”

If the Class of 2012 has a legacy, Keithly says, it may be as the technology class. They petitioned, with the Class of 2011, to get wireless Internet access in Merritt Auditorium (they got it over the winter break) and are continuing to advocate for video captures of the more difficult classes. With the video capture, “you’re able to ‘pause’ your professor and write your notes,” she says. Or if you enjoy your education on the run, “you can hop on your treadmill and listen to the lecture on your MP3 player,” she says.

At age 35, Keithly had some unique experiences to bring to the role of president. She spent seven years as a high school English teacher in Hawaii before moving to Boston and starting a women’s health network company. It was that job that introduced her to some “very cool dentists,” and sparked her interest in the dental profession.

She sees the presidency as a bonus to her studies rather than a burden. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” says Keithly, who, like Dombroski, says she has connected with her classmates in a way she never would have otherwise.

But if you want to talk about struggles, Keithly can tell you about training to run the 2009 Boston Marathon on April 20 as part of the Tufts President’s Marathon Challenge. For the San Diego native, navigating the glaciers shrouding Boston’s winter sidewalks—now that’s a challenge.

Julie Flaherty can be reached at

Article Tools

emailE-mail printPrint