Black Alumni of LLU & LSU names alumnus of the year
The Black Alumni of Loma Linda and La Sierra Universities have named Ronald E. Forde, DDS, as their Alumnus of the Year.
Dr. Forde was born on the island of Barbados in the early 1950s along with his brother and two sisters. He is the oldest of four children, born into a Seventh-day Adventist family. In 1965, the family moved from Barbados to Montreal, Canada, where a new chapter in his life began.
Dr. Forde completed high school there in 1969, followed by a one-year stint at Sir George Williams University, where he discovered that electrical engineering was not to his liking. Following this effort, he trained on the job and worked as a respiratory technologist for about two years and then decided to return to school. This time it was to pursue a degree in medical laboratory technology.
He enrolled at Dawson College in Montreal and completed the course, becoming a registered medical laboratory technician in 1974. With degree in hand it was time to leave home, so off to Toronto he moved where he would work at York-Finch hospital for two years.
In 1975, Dr. Forde married the former Dorothy Sinclair, his childhood sweetheart. She joined him in Toronto as they began their life together. As they were enjoying the early routines of married life, a recruiting team (Pastors Harold Lee and Wintley Phipps) from Oakwood College, Huntsville, Alabama, came to town, and before they knew it, they found themselves at Oakwood College. Dorothy graduated in 1978 as a registered nurse, and Dr. Forde in 1979 with a BS degree in biology and an invitation to join the incoming class of dental students at Loma Linda University in 1980.
Upon graduation from LLU, Dr. and Mrs. Forde along with their two small children accepted a call from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to go to Zaire and open a new dental practice in the city of Lubumbashi.
It was a challenging practice for a new graduate. Working with his patients who spoke French, being out of contact with friends and family back in North America, and hoping to avoid tropical illnesses were among the realities of daily life. It was also an opportunity to meet the local population and learn the culture while serving the large expatriate community, including many from the American Consulate nearby where Dorothy also worked as a nurse.
After six years there, a call came to move to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to join a growing Seventh-day Adventist dental clinic there. The call was accepted and the family of (now) five made the move, where they lived and worked for 10 years (1989 to 1999). In 1999, Dr. Forde was awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award by the School of Dentistry at Loma Linda University.
In 1999, another call was received, this time to join the dental faculty of Loma Linda University School of Dentistry as director of service learning. For the past seven years, Dr. Forde has served the dental school in this capacity, overseeing the community dental clinics run by Loma Linda University, as well as a strong international student mission movement.
He is also connected with the recruitment program of the dental school, teaches a course in dental public health, and is an assistant professor with the department of restorative dentistry. He is a member of several local health committees in the Inland Empire, and he participates in numerous local health fairs annually.
By Nicole R. Cheatham