DDS Class of 2012 Student Veena Vaidyanathan comes from a family of physicians and a small town in Florida—Arcadia, Florida, to be exact. Growing up around doctors sparked her interest in medicine from an early age and she always knew she wanted to go into a healthcare profession.
When her teenage years rolled around and it was time to start thinking about college, she looked into dentistry. And soon, she was committed to dentistry as her career choice. Rather than major in biological sciences as an undergraduate and then apply to dental school, Veena focused exclusively on accelerated undergraduate/graduate programs. She gained acceptance into University of the Pacific’s 3+3 program, where students complete three years of undergraduate education on the Stockton campus followed by three years of dental school in San Francisco. In the summer of 2011 Veena began her sixth and final year as a 3+3 student.
“I believe in University of the Pacific. I believe in the undergrad program and I believe in the dental school,” she says. “Students who participate in Pacific’s accelerated programs are extremely well-prepared for dental school. The curriculum has been created for us to succeed.”
What is her ultimate and cherished goal? To become a regent of the University of the Pacific.
Once at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, Veena dove headfirst into student leadership and organized dentistry in addition to her studies. She became actively involved with the school’s chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). She helped plan two successful American Dental Political Action Committee weeks on campus, which brought several California state legislators and senior members of the American Dental Association to campus.
“Being active in organized dentistry has helped get me through dental school because it’s something I really like doing and it keeps me engaged,” comments Veena.
Veena recently assumed a new national leadership role. She was elected chair of ASDA’s Legislative Grassroots Network and oversees all of ASDA’s legislative-related activities throughout the country. She is working to increase student involvement in state and national lobbying efforts and to educate ASDA members on legislative issues affecting dentistry and dental education.
She’s also planning this year’s annual National Dental Student Lobby Day, which will take place in April 2012 in Washington, D.C. The event brings dental students together from across the country on Capitol Hill to lobby for various issues impacting the dental community. She’ll also travel all over the United States to meet with members of the American Dental Education Association and the ADA, members of the Legislative Grassroots Network council and many others.
“Holding a national position can be stressful at times, but I’m truly enjoying it,” says Veena. “I’ve met so many interesting people, new friends and contacts that I know I’ll keep in touch with in the future.”
As for her life here in San Francisco, Veena is quick to mention how happy her dental school classmates are. She’s met dental students from other schools who mention they feel as if they’re expected to fail in school, rather than to succeed. “It’s different here at Pacific,” she says. “We all help each other here. If someone is falling behind, we all do what we can to help them along,” she added. “It’s things like this that set Pacific apart.”
When asked what she has in mind after she graduates from the Dugoni School of Dentistry, Veena mentions a long and ambitious list of goals. She’s currently applying to pediatric residency programs throughout the country. After she completes her residency, she plans to go into private practice and hopes to stay active in organized dentistry through the ADA. What is her ultimate and cherished goal? To become a regent of the University of the Pacific.
“I know it’s lofty of me to say that, and I have to achieve a lot between now and then, but it really is a goal of mine. That’s how much I believe in this place.”