USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Ostrow alumna Carol Gomez Summerhays earns prestigious USC Alumni Merit Award

BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14

Ostrow alumna and Board of Councilors member Carol Gomez Summerhays DDS ’78 has earned a prestigious 2018 Alumni Merit Award from the USC Alumni Association for her longtime contributions to both the university community as well as the dental profession.

The distinction, which has been previously awarded to such USC luminaries at Neil Armstrong, Frank Gehry, John Wayne and Louis Zamperini, is meant to recognize distinguished members of the Trojan family for their personal and professional achievements and dedication and loyal service to USC.

“No one is more deserving of this award than Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays,” said Ostrow Dean Avishai Sadan in his nomination letter. “She represents the Trojan ideals in the best possible way through her professional service, leadership and volunteerism.”

An Accomplished Career

Summerhays graduated from the USC dental school in 1978, having served in various student leadership positions. During her studies, she earned both the Mosby Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Alpha Tau Epsilon Honor Dental Fraternity Leadership Award.

After graduation, Summerhays, who had attended dental school on an Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship, was named a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve — a position she held until 1982, when she opened her private practice in San Diego, Calif.

During her nearly four decades-long career, she has been actively involved in many professional dental organizations, including the Academy of General Dentistry, the American Association of Women Dentists and the Hispanic Dental Association.

She was the president of the California Dental Association from 2008 to 2009 and the American Dental Association from 2015 to 2016.

Summerhays has been a member of Ostrow’s Board of Councilors since 2010 and a member of the Friends of Dentistry alumni support group since 2008. She has also endowed two scholarships at Ostrow.

Earlier this year, Summerhays  was recognized with a 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor for her exceptional service to our nation. Past recipients of this prestigious award have included six past U.S. presidents, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and first female presidential candidate representing a major political party Hillary Clinton.

Summerhays will officially receive the Alumni Merit Award at the 85th annual USC Alumni Awards, taking place on April 28 in Downtown Los Angeles.

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