Alumni Profile: Mario and Elva Rapanotti
Husband, Wife Dental Team Dedicated to Giving Back to Community, School
By Salwa Choucair
With a combined 59 years in practice and 25,000 patients, one pair of San Antonio dentists attributes their longevity and success to the training and education they each received as students in the School of Dentistry at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. They share more than an office and alma mater however; they also share the same last name. Together, this husband and wife team is giving back and encouraging others to do the same.
“It’s simple,” says Mario Rapanotti, D.D.S., Class of 1983. “Being a dentist means you have a skill to bring to society and to your neighborhood. You don’t own the game; you are just part of the game. Therefore, giving back to the community is truly just about being a good neighbor.”
Mario and his wife, Elva Rapanotti, D.D.S., Class of 1988, met while he was in his second year of dental school and Elva was an undergraduate at St. Mary’s University, which just so happened to be Mario’s alma mater as well. They each chose the Health Science Center for their postgraduate studies because of its reputation as being the best. Today, both credit their professors and courses at the Health Science Center for guiding them and providing them with the foundation they needed to be successful in their chosen field.
“The teachers really mold, teach and help you,” Mario says. “They were wonderful. In many ways they are academians; in many ways they are your parents while you are there to guide you; and they are your friends and mentors. We were taught by giving people, and now we are giving back to the school so they can help future dentists do the same. Besides, it’s fun to get involved, and it’s contagious. When you are around good people who do good things for others, you want to do it as well.”
Throughout their careers, they have given back to their community by providing their dental skills free of charge often on weekends through various charitable organizations, and they have given financially as well.
When it comes to giving back, Elva, who immigrated to the United States with her family from Cuba at the age of 6, believes her contributions are a way to say “thank you” to the country that gave her family a second chance.
“It sounds corny, but it’s just what you do,” Mario says, “and it becomes part of your life. As a dentist, you are part of the community and people trust you. I think of it as being a good neighbor. If someone came over to ask you to help them cut a tree down for an hour or someone asks you to do some dental work—it’s just spending some time with them.”
This simple belief is the cornerstone of Mario and Elva’s success, and the reason their contributions will reverberate for generations to come.