Commencement Speaker Ready to Be ‘The Dentist’

Joe Blondin is the School of Dental Medicine Class of 2011 commencement speaker. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)

Joe Blondin is the School of Dental Medicine Class of 2011 commencement speaker.

Joe Blondin says he’s just looking forward to being “the dentist.”

The 2011 School of Dental Medicine commencement speaker’s days as a student are not over, but the next phase of his training—he’s staying at UConn as a Master of Dental Science candidate and endodontics resident—will be different.

“I’ll be the dentist,” Blondin says. “I really don’t’ have to check in with anyone. People will come to me and expect me to know what I’m doing, expect me to do a great job. It’s good that it will be a residency, there’ll be help around, but instead of being watched every step, I’m supposed to know the steps.”

Blondin’s undergraduate path followed his father’s and grandfather’s to the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in preprofessional studies and minored in science technology and values.

“I knew I wanted to do health care as soon as I went to college,” says Blondin, the son of an optometrist and brother of a neurologist. “I’m really good with my hands. I didn’t really have the art skill but I thought dentistry was a good field.”

He was drawn to endodontics as a UConn dental student in a pre-clinical lab.

“I felt like it was the first thing I was really good at,” Blondin says. “So I shadowed the residents, and we got to clinic, and I really enjoyed doing the procedures.”

Blondin’s clinical work was under the supervision of Drs. Melissa Ing, Frank Nichols and Jonathan Meiers, all of whom he credits for raising his professional standards.

“We spent a lot of time in the clinic trying to become perfectionists, and they expect our work to be absolutely great,” Blondin says. “So now I feel that I am always going to expect my work to be at that level.”

He also spent four years involved with the American Student Dental Association, ending up in the role of district trustee representing UConn, Boston University, Tufts and Harvard at national meetings.

Blondin, a Litchfield native, believes he’s part of the best class of graduating dental students in the country. And when he takes the dias at the Connecticut Convention Center May 15, he plans to tell his classmates that the school is only part of the reason.

“Everyone knows how great UConn’s dental school is, but I’m going to think about how great our class has been,” Blondin says. “Maybe what makes us good dentists is not only the school, but who you’re with all the time.”