Awards, DDS, Students

2022 Award Recipients for the Dr. Henry S. Zaytoun Sr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics

Dean Guthmiller and the Zaytoun award recipients

In December, four students were honored with the Henry S. and Martha N. Zaytoun Professionalism and Ethics Award. The award is presented to two DDS students in each of the third- and fourth-year classes. UNC Adams School of Dentistry faculty, staff, students, or patients may nominate students for the Zaytoun Award, and a committee of faculty select the recipients.

The Zaytoun Award in Professionalism and Ethics was established in 2001 with a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Henry Zaytoun Sr. through the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. The purpose of the award is to recognize dental students who have demonstrated superior professional and ethical demeanor during the cumulative clinical training obtained at the school. Dr. Zaytoun earned his master’s degree in orthodontics from the UNC Adams School of Dentistry in 1959 and practiced orthodontics in Raleigh for more than 50 years.

This year’s award recipients were fourth-year students Olivia Nillissen and Rachael Purvis Veazey, and third-year students Margaret McGuire and Christine Sulzer. Please continue reading below to learn more about this year’s recipients!

Olivia Nillissen, DDS Candidate 2023, graduated from Duke University in 2019 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Raised by both a dentist and dental hygienist, she soon realized her passion lies in dentistry. Nillissen currently serves as President of the UNC ASDA chapter and this summer will be attending UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry for her residency. She will be pursuing an AEGD residency program to learn more specialty procedures and expand her scope of practice, with the goal of comprehensively treating patients in a rural community, much like her hometown in Wisconsin.

In the nomination letter for the award, it wrote that Nillissen’s “best virtues are caring for others, including peers, staff, faculty, and, especially, her patients, great hand skills, being respectful and being a hard worker. She has a perfect combination of dedication, hard work, sense of humor, ethics, and love for others that translates into her clinical work. During her senior year she has continued to impress me with her work ethic, perseverance, and ability to be a team player. She is compassionate with her patients, and they all genuinely love her.”

Rachael Purvis Veazey, DDS Candidate 2023, is from Gastonia, NC and attended UNC Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree in biology. While in dental school, she discovered a particular interest in oral and maxillofacial pathology and is passionate about advocating for women in healthcare. She enjoys exploring local trails and restaurants, making pottery, cooking, reading, and spending time with her husband, Andrew, as well as her neighbors and family in the area. After dental school, she will be staying at UNC to pursue a General Practice Residency.

The submitted nomination letter for Purvis Veazey wrote that she “is a kind and thoughtful person, quick to offer a compliment, encourage a friend or classmate during a procedure, and always respectful to those around her. Even if she doesn’t have a patient in clinic, you will always find her assisting her classmates or creating small talk with patients. It is not uncommon for her to stay late after school meeting with faculty to discuss treatment plans. Rachael is particularly conscious of the patient experience in the school, and she and the other class representative are constantly working to make the patient experience better.”

Margaret McGuire is originally from Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Little Washington, NC. From a young age, she aspired to be a dentist and credits her childhood dentist for inspiring her to pursue general dentistry. In high school, McGuire participated in the North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) outreach programs — portable free dental clinics that offer care for adults from underserved households — further solidifying her conviction to pursue dentistry. At UNC Adams, she is co-president of the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association (SPEA), which puts on several major speaker events per year. These programs are hosted by NC dentists who discuss the ethical problems they face every day in private practice. Outside of her interest in dental ethics, she is co-president of the school’s chapter of the dental fraternity Delta Sigma Delta, organizes journal clubs to promote evidence-based dentistry practices, and writes for the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) blog and magazine. In her free time, Margaret runs, makes art, and plays with her dental school friends in a casual band called “The Typodonts.”

McGuire’s nomination letter detailed how fitting it was for her to receive the award.

“When I read the name of this award, I immediately thought of Margaret because of her involvement with the UNC Student Professionalism & Ethics Association (SPEA). She has been involved with SPEA for most of our dental career. She often promotes events that the organization puts on. She is a classmate who we all value so much because of how she betters our class and our class dynamic. In my opinion, Margaret embodies all of the qualities listed for a recipient of this award and should earnestly be considered for this award.”

Christine Sulzer is from a small town outside of Asheboro, NC where she lived until moving to Chapel Hill for dental school in 2020. Sulzer graduated from Guilford Technical Community College in 2005 with an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. After practicing dental hygiene for 12 years, Sulzer took a leap of faith and quit her job to fulfill her dream of becoming a dentist. In her free time, Sulzer likes to spend time with her husband and dog, cook new recipes, and travel.

Sulzer’s unique dental background and helpful nature made her an excellent candidate to be nominated for the award. “Christine is always willing to assist someone when they are in need. Because she was a hygienist prior to dental school, she has unique experiences that many of us do not have, and she has always been willing to share her knowledge with others. In many of our courses related to hygiene, Christine has volunteered as an extra TA for the class. As a clinician, Christine is determined to provide the best care that she can. What Christine’s patients say about her and how they interact with her are a tell-tale to the type of person and clinician she is.”