Ohio State Dental Journal

The Power of One

Second-year dental student Ricky Gray (second from right) and wife, Brittany Gray, with donors (from left) Jessica Lawrence and Scott Lawrence, ’85 DDS.

We at the College of Dentistry are extremely thankful for our scholarship donors and the generous gifts they provide to our students—the dental and dental hygiene professionals of tomorrow. No matter how often we try, though, we can’t say thank you nearly as well as the scholarship recipients themselves. Following are excerpts from remarks made by one recipient, dental student Ricky Gray ’18, during the annual scholarship dinner to recognize donors this past spring. Ricky speaks for all of our scholarship recipients, as well as our faculty and staff, when we say, “thank you, donors!”

If, as a young boy, one of you would have told me that one day I would be here delivering brief remarks for an occasion such as this, I may not have believed you. The unfortunate reality is that, for the most part, kids where I’m from don’t usually grow up to find themselves in situations like this. I still remember vividly the sight of the large buckets scattered throughout our high school to catch the rain through leaky ceilings. I remember the day those buckets were replaced by an indoor gutter system as a cheaper alternative to a new roof. I remember the day our local power plant closed and thinking about all of my friends and classmates whose parents would lose their jobs, and I remember how real those emotions became when my own father lost his job of 30 years during the recession. 

“Each of our individual journeys to success and service is not a path that we walk alone.”

All my life, all I’ve really wanted was the opportunity to be a part of making things better for the places like where I come from. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve looked at The Ohio State University as the pathway to lead me to that capability. I’ve always known that, at whatever cost, I had to make it to a place like this. I worked a lot of long hours doing a lot of strange jobs to pay my way to the blessing of becoming the first in my family to graduate from college. I came to realize that my personal journey to lifting my community would be paved through my contribution as a dentist.

Receiving a scholarship is one of the most electrifying experiences that I know of. Why is that? What these scholarships do is so much more than pay for books or typodont teeth. It goes far beyond assistance with rent and utility bills. Are these things of vital help and support? Absolutely! Thank you. Thank you so much for easing this incredible financial burden. But what these scholarships do for all of us is make us believe in the pursuit of our passion. They confirm to us that each of our individual journeys to success and service is not a path that we walk alone. They teach us that Ohio State is not just a place where we come to get an education. It is a movement, a living, breathing entity made up of professionals, scholars, and just plain-old loving human beings who are fiercely devoted to the growth, development, and success of all people—especially those who are less fortunate than we are. 

I’m so thankful to have met Dr. Scott and Mrs. Jessica Lawrence this evening. I think of them often. I think of them when I ace a test or when I prepare just one more crown at the end of a long day. They are a physical embodiment of the incredible goodwill that has been extended to me in so many forms as one who calls himself a Buckeye, and are an ever present reminder of my own responsibility to continue in that compassionate tradition.

There are no words to sufficiently express our gratitude for what each of you donors has done for each of us. May our careers and our lives in their entirety reflect our appreciation for your selfless love.