Dr. Julia Pompura: Outstanding Alumna

The Faculty of Dentistry is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award, Dr. Julia Pompura. This award recognizes and celebrates a McGill Dentistry graduate for their exceptional contributions to the Faculty and the dental profession in general.

Dr. Julia PompuraAfter graduating from the DMD program in 1989, Dr. Pompura continued her learning with a general practice residency at the Royal Victoria Hospital and ultimately completed her specialization in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Toronto.

Following her studies in Toronto, Dr. Pompura decided to come back to Montreal and McGill. As per the reason for coming back: “I came back because everybody I wanted to work with was here.” Since then, Dr. Pompura has taught in the Faculty of Dentistry and as part of the OMFS program. In addition to her role as an educator, she has been heavily involved in organized dentistry, holding various leadership roles and executive positions in the Canadian Association of Oral Surgeons and Canadian Dental Association.

Dr. Pompura’s passion for teaching originated from her experience at McGill, as well. In a candid response, this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipient dispels the idea that there’s some ‘magical thing’ about McGill, but nonetheless admits, “even in my very first year, certain professors get to the core of your intellectual curiosity. They instilled in me a sense of obligation and responsibility to give back either as a teacher or in community work in general. That’s something McGill graduates are known for. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I hope I’m doing it for the students now.”

This year marks Dr. Pompura’s 25th anniversary of teaching at McGill. This award comes at a fitting time to mark this important milestone as the spirit of giving is inherent to her passion as an educator. “Teaching is one of the most noble professions,” she notes, “because all you do is communicate what you already know to someone else, and hope that the person you’re teaching is going to be better than you are.” Dr. Pompura remains an important role model for female students interested in her surgical specialty. But importantly, Dr. Pompura is also an example for students to follow as “someone who can balance her life and her job."

McGill isn’t only her alma mater, nor the place she teaches and practices. It’s had a fundamental impact on her outlook on the world. In many ways, McGill punches above its weight—this is even truer for the Faculty of Dentistry, one of the smaller faculties at the University. Despite these challenges, Dr. Pompura notes, “McGill is still able to produce excellent graduates. McGill has shown me the ability to overcome these odds comes from within. It’s hard to explain that to someone from a different university, especially universities that are blessed with a lot of resources. McGill gives you a sense of confidence that you can accomplish things despite what the challenges may be.”

The COVID-19 pandemic posed yet another seemingly insurmountable challenge this year. The most important lesson Dr. Pompura wants to impart on students today, considering the circumstances of the past year, is perseverance. Especially in clinical disciplines, she notes, “No matter how knowledgeable you become, and how confident you become, even the smallest thing can turn that feeling around. Her final and important words of advice: “keep your eyes open for opportunities where you give back to society, in altruism.”

Dr. Pompura’s distinguished career and sustained commitment to dental education and community outreach make her an outstanding alumna who continues to champion the McGill values with great pride—and therefore, an excellent role model for us all.

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