Dr. Charles Rankin highlights the activities of the Health Professional Scholarship Program student organization:
“I began thinking about initiating a HPSP Tufts Dental group in 2000 after visiting Peter Bellas, a D97 grad stationed at Andrews AFB, MD. He really didn’t receive much support for his military obligations from the school so I began to look up those students who may have served or had HPSP scholarships.
I myself, had a history with the Air Force so it was a natural way to go for me. After graduating from Everett High in 1967, and with the Vietnam War going on, I knew I was susceptible to the draft. I knew I wanted a bed to sleep in at night so I decided to enlist in the Air Force, they had beds! (I had 4 brothers, all who served in the military) The local AF recruiter promised me I’d be a Military police officer or C130 loadmaster; something Air Force….. they made me a dental assistant. I went to AF basic training and through an AF dental assisting course in 1968. During the next 4 years, I spent my time in the AF as a dental assistant in London, then at Ramstein AB in Germany. When I was discharged in 1972, I attended Salem State receiving a BA in Biology. I then figured “if those guys I assisted in the AF could do dentistry, I could!” I applied to Tufts Dental and was shocked when I got accepted because I had no way to pay the tuition. The AF gave out one HPSP scholarship that year in 1976 – I received it.
I identified with the students who were in the HPSP program because I lived it. In 2002 we started to make the HPSP more known by having Dean Norris present certificates to Debra Sharp, D02 Navy and John Newcomb, D02 Army.
In 2004, we actually had a Senior HPSP luncheon with Dean Norris, the military recruiters and our D02 HPSP students.
During the following years we became more active with the military now sponsoring luncheons and other events.
In 2007, we had our first Navy commissioning ceremony on the USS Constitution in the Navy Yard in Charlestown. Jerod Geller D07, was greeted by his mom, an Admiral in the Navy. David Merrill, D07 was also commissioned. During that same year, Jessica Hebert D06 and Charley Cheney D04 came back from the Middle East and told their stories.
In 2008, we started having Senior Nights rather than just luncheons. Our first Senior night was held at Maggianos restaurant. It was there, I met MGEN Russell Czerw who later commissioned our Army HPSP students at Fanueil Hall.
Through the years 2009 – 2012, as Tufts HPSP grew , we had several social events at Fajitas and Ritas.
The 2010 year was special because it was the year we began our annual Drive For The Troops. For 10 years now, in November, around Veterans Day, our HPSP group would begin a drive to collect books, magazines, shirts, candy etc. to send to our troops serving overseas, especially in the Middle East.
During the years we also held sporting events like softball and flag football games on the Boston Common; even held a shooting even at a Rifle Range in 2012.
The year 2011 was a big year for the Tufts Dental HPSP group because Dean Norris supported our Senior Night which now could be held in the Alumni Lounge on the 15th floor.
Every May since 2011, we have been celebrating the commitments by our senior HPSP students close to their graduation on the 15th floor.
The year 2014 was special because we had as guest speakers, the sisters of a young man who was lost in Iraq.
The HPSP Commissioning Ceremonies have been so memorable. Most of the Navy’s ceremonies have been held on the USS Constitution.
One Navy Commissioning Ceremony was at the roof of the Tufts library on graduation day 2015
Back on the Tufts library roof on Graduation Day 2017 with the Navy.
I was so honored when I was asked by the Army to be their guest speaker at their Commissioning ceremony in Fenway Park in 2017.
Army Commissioning 2019.
AF, Army, Navy Luncheons — 2017.
DAV5K at Castle Island, South Boston — 2108.
Tough Ruck — 2018-2019.
2020 Virtual Senior Night
I can’t thank you enough for your support.” —- Dr. Charles Rankin