Jason Cummins, D22

School: School of Dental Medicine 

Degree: Doctor of Dental Medicine 

Home: Ever more northward! Barbados is where I’m from, and that will always be home, but Boston has become home for me, too—and next, I’m going to Maine.  

Why was this the degree for you? 

My dad is a dentist and I practically grew up in his office, so dentistry is in my blood. I really enjoy having a positive impact on patients’ lives. Also, I love to teach, and this program has allowed me many opportunities for mentorship. That’s been a huge part of my experience—giving back by helping colleagues, peers, and students.  

Particularly valuable lessons you learned outside the classroom? 

The importance of not judging others. People come from all walks of life, whether it’s in the clinic or outside of it, among classmates or co-workers—whoever it may be. Taking people at face value and not jumping to conclusions is important; there’s just so much behind what we can merely see. We have no idea what stories people carry. Being at Tufts and serving as a healthcare provider has really fostered that thinking in me, and it’s something I want to carry forward into my future practice, my interactions with patients—really, my interactions with everyone. 

What’s your superpower? 

Helping people. At the dental school, we have a vertical integration program, in which more experienced students mentor newer ones, and the mentors are referred to as “Bigs.” I jokingly get referred to as “everybody’s Big.” It’s just the way I am. I love helping people in all kinds of ways: teaching, answering questions, listening, being a supporter as best I can. That goes not just for my community at Tufts, but for everyone in my life. 

Your best advice for aspiring dentists?  

Keep things in perspective. For me, a real lesson emerged when I repeated my first year of dental school. Going through something like that comes with a stigma, and people might have expected me to feel embarrassed, angry, bitter, or less-than in some way. But I decided I was going to put a positive spin on the experience and see it from a different perspective. That decision allowed me at orientation—my second orientation—to introduce myself to my new classmates and share my story with them. I even approached Dean Kasberg and told him that I wanted to offer support to my classmates in whatever way I could. I told everyone that I was happy to answer their questions. It was part of my effort to rise above negative feelings and not just hide in a box as if my life was over. The fact was, I saw repeating the year as an amazing opportunity. It was a chance to do things over, to do it better this time around. That mindset made all the difference. It put me in a position to help others see their own ability to turn potential setbacks into positive outcomes. 

For full Commencement 2022 coverage, please visit now.tufts.edu/commencement-2022. 

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