Trailblazing orthodontist honors her Pacific experience with powerful gift

Dr. Maryse Aubert, pictured with her classmates in 1980, has created an endowed scholarship for dental students.

Dr. Maryse Aubert, pictured with her classmates and faculty in 1980, was the first woman and internationally trained dentist to enroll in the competitive program.

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently celebrated 50 years of its graduate orthodontics residency program.

For Dr. Maryse Aubert ’80, ’94, it was an opportunity to reflect on her unique place in Dugoni School history.

A native of Southern France, Dr. Aubert was the first woman and first internationally trained dentist to enroll in the highly competitive program. In 2023, she retired from a 40-year career as both a practicing orthodontist and a Dugoni School faculty member.

This spring, she established the Dr. Maryse M. Aubert Orthodontic Endowed Scholarship, with a preference for women and foreign-trained residents. Her $150,000 gift will be doubled through the university’s Powell match program.

"(This scholarship) is a testament to Dr. Aubert's commitment to education and her belief in the potential of every student." - Dr. Heesoo Oh ’05, chair of the orthodontics program

Aubert funded the scholarship with a distribution from her individual retirement account. Donors over age 70.5 can make qualified charitable distributions up to $100,000 from their IRAs each year, which provide tax benefits while meeting required minimum distributions.

The first Aubert Scholar will be identified in 2025.

“It’s difficult for somebody from another country—for most of us—to manage tuition, and I’m happy to be able to help,” Aubert said. “Hopefully I helped students when I was teaching, and now, if I can help financially as well, I’m very grateful.”

Aubert became fascinated with orthodontics while completing her dental degree in Paris. She immigrated to California in 1977 and began learning English before applying to postgraduate programs.

Her first two applications were unsuccessful. But, she said, “I never take no for an answer.” A networking connection led to an unpaid position as a laboratory assistant at the Dugoni School, where her skill and dedication soon earned her an interview.

She would later learn that Dr. Art Dugoni, who became dean of the school that same year, had insisted that, “It’s time Pacific opened up to the world and to women.”

Today more than 300 orthodontists have completed the program, of whom one third are female and 12 percent are foreign trained. In 2023, Pacific graduated its first all-female orthodontics cohort.

Aubert opened her own orthodontic specialty clinic in Sunnyvale, California in 1985, the same year she joined the Dugoni School faculty. 

Aubert spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration

Aubert speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of Dugoni's orthodontics program in May 2023. The celebration, originally scheduled for 2021, was delayed due to the pandemic.

“[As a student] I had great support from very open-minded people, and I really enjoyed that. I carried it with me, and then I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

While teaching, she earned a Master of Arts in Educational and Counseling Psychology from Benerd College. She also served as president of the Pacific Orthodontics Chapter of the dental school’s alumni association.

“Dr. Aubert has made an impact on the Dugoni School family in every conceivable capacity—as a student, an alumna, a teacher, and now as a donor—and we are immensely grateful,” said Dugoni School Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94, ’99, ‘11.

“For our women students, and for residents from as far away as Canada, Korea and Kuwait, to be able to see themselves in someone as successful as Maryse is a tremendous gift and inspiration. Through this scholarship, her groundbreaking legacy will continue to touch the lives of aspiring orthodontists well into the future."

Dr. Heesoo Oh ’05, current chair of the orthodontics program, agrees.

“The scholarship will encourage diversity and excellence in our program. It is a testament to Dr. Aubert's commitment to education and her belief in the potential of every student,” Oh said.

To this day, Aubert remembers that not everyone was initially accepting of a French, female dental student. She hopes her scholarship will help residents following in her footsteps to persevere, as she did, and to never take no for an answer.

To learn more about giving to Pacific from an IRA, contact Molly Byrne, senior associate vice president for development, at 209.946.2780 or