Wheeling Man Graduates First In Dental School Class | News, Sports, Jobs

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Wheeling resident Dr. Thomas Stanley holds his doctor of dental surgery degree on graduation day at West Virginia University. He graduated first in his dentistry class.

WHEELING — Wheeling resident Dr. Thomas Stanley recently graduated first in his class at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

Stanley, 26, is the son of Susan and George Stanley of Wheeling.

Stanley graduated with the highest GPA in his class — 3.89 — granting him the distinction of being ranked No. 1 in his class. He now holds a doctorate in dental surgery but plans to complete a three-year residency in prosthodontics, also known as dental prosthetics, at WVU School of Dentistry.

Afterward, he aims to open a private practice possibly in the Wheeling region. He also holds a bachelor of science from WVU with a concentration in exercise physiology.

Stanley was vice-president of his dental class, which graduated this past May. He was inducted into the national dental honor society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon. He received the Kramer award from OKU, which is an honor given only to the top five students in the top 20% of a class. Among his accolades, Stanley also won a tuition waiver from WVU during his junior and senior years.

Stanley is a 2014 graduate of Wheeling Central High School.

He said he became interested in dentistry after visiting and spending time in his uncle Joseph Palmer’s dental office in Warwood. Dr. Palmer died in 2015 at the age of 55.

Palmer’s death came during Stanley’s first year of college. Since they were so close it was a difficult time, he said.

“In dental school, I thought about him all the time. There were so many things we could talk about,” he said. “I hope to be half the man and dentist he was.”

Stanley has another uncle, Jack Palmer, a periodontist, who also influenced him as well.

Stanley said he was somewhat surprised that he placed first in his class. He knew he was doing well with his grades, but did not realize how close to the top he was.

“It was pretty cool. It’s not important to me, but I love dentistry. … I just try to do my very best every day,” he said. “The GPA in dental school not only includes the didactic portion but incorporates all preclinical and clinical aspects as well. Students are graded on their technical skill and ability on all procedures performed. That is a big slice of the pie when it comes to grades in dental school.”

During the graduation ceremony, Stanley was hooded by WVU Medicine cardiac surgeon Dr. George Comas. Stanley asked Comas to perform the honor because he was his father’s heart surgeon.

Stanley’s father failed a stress test during a medical exam last September. Further testing revealed 99% of his arteries were blocked, and that he needed quadruple bypass surgery.

“He did a fantastic job. He saved my dad’s life and he touched his heart,” Stanley said of Comas, adding that his father is doing well now.

Susan Stanley said getting good grades is something she and her husband always stressed to their son while he was growing up. She noted he is a “very good student.”

“We’re so proud of him,” she said. “He’s an all-around good kid. He’s very selfless. He’s a good, kind, nice boy – and humble.”

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