ASDA: Advocating for Change

Leadership is one of the dental school’s seven core values. Dean Emeritus Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 continues to exemplify what it means to be a leader, espousing the importance of getting involved and giving back to the profession. His message is heard loud and clear by the Dugoni School family. Alumni, faculty and staff have embraced the many opportunities for leadership as shown by their involvement within the dental school, organized dentistry and their communities. Students at the Dugoni School of Dentistry are carrying on the tradition of leadership and service and many are taking an active role in the American Student Dental Association (ASDA).

“I never expected to be standing in front of the president of the American Dental Association speaking about IDS students and advocating for a change I believe in,” said Amro Elkhatieb, IDS Class of 2016 and advanced standing liaison for District 11 of ASDA. “It was an amazing experience to present at the District 11 Meeting in Irvine last October and to have the opportunity to meet Dr. Carol Summerhays.”

Elkhatieb’s presentation focused on the challenges foreign dentists encounter with taking Part One of the National Board Exam in the United States or Canada before being eligible to become an IDS student in this country. Although Summerhays was unaware that prospective IDS students can only take the initial part of the exam in the United States or Canada, she exhibited immense enthusiasm and support of possible changes. She asked Elkhatieb to follow-up on this specific topic and encouraged the students to lobby for change through ASDA.

After the ASDA Annual Meeting in March 2016, the organization formed a new, five-member national committee—the Advanced Standing Advisory Committee. “We are looking forward to making changes for IDS students,” said Elkhatieb. “It will be a win-win situation for everyone—IDS students, DDS students and patients. I believe this committee will also foster a better understanding of people from other cultures.”

Currently, Pacific’s ASDA chapter consists of five executive cabinet members and 25 student leaders involved on the various teams or committees led by the cabinet members, such as the legislative liaison team, the event coordinator team, the treasurer team, etc. “We decided to model our chapter after the national ASDA organization during the year I served as president,” said Steve Truman, Class of 2016, president of Pacific’s ASDA Chapter from 2014-15 and the ASDA District 11 community outreach coordinator for Northern California. “We have seen better results with the new organizational chart. Roles are more clearly defined and we created a document that outlines the roles and responsibilities to help future ASDA leaders at the Dugoni School.”

Four students from the Dugoni School of Dentistry were appointed to positions for ASDA’s District 11 for the 2015-16 year which represents students from all six of the California dental schools.

Four students from the Dugoni School of Dentistry were appointed to positions for ASDA’s District 11 for the 2015-16 year which represents students from all six of the California dental schools. Tiffany Wang, Class of 2017, served as communications chair, Dana Baba, Class of 2016, was a member of the District 11 Planning Committee, Truman served as community outreach coordinator for Northern California and Elkhatieb was the advanced standing liaison. “For me, ASDA opened up networking opportunities with other California dental students and even with peers from all over the nation. To see that we were united under like-minded interests and causes was very empowering,” said Wang. “As a completely student-run organization, ASDA is a great platform to exchange ideas with the mission to advocate for our profession, and I am eternally grateful for the life-long friendships that I have made along the way.”

Pacific’s ASDA chapter improved its already strong participation in district and national ASDA meetings in 2015. Twenty-nine students attended the ASDA Annual Session (14 more students than the previous year), nine students participated in National Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., 22 students attended the National Leadership Conference and 27 students represented the Dugoni School of Dentistry at the District 11 Meeting. The ASDA chapter raised money through fundraisers, lunch and learns and the ASDA Vendor Fair, in addition to obtaining some sponsorships. These funds helped pay for conference registrations and accommodations for the students attending the various ASDA meetings.

“ASDA has shown me that, as a common voice, students can push to make changes in dentistry and in dental education,” said Truman. “At Lobby Day, we represented 20,000+ dental students when we spoke to representatives on Capitol Hill.”

When not attending state or national meetings, members of the dental school’s ASDA chapter are planning various professional development programs, service projects or social events here in San Francisco. “This year, we aimed to create activities and offer opportunities that busy dental students would find beneficial or enjoy doing,” said Laura Tsu, Class of 2016, Ideal ASDA chair and resident historian and graphic designer. “We wanted to optimize every student’s experience here and help them become confident, knowledgeable and well-rounded clinicians in the future.”

This group of committed student leaders coordinated a number of new ASDA activities this past year, including:  the “San Francisco Survival Guide” workshop, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, First-Year Speed Meeting, “How to Get a Job in 30 Days” workshop, Q4 March Madness, “All About the Boards” collaborative workshop with the CDA representative, Curry Senior Center community outreach program and Kids Enjoying Exercise community service project. In addition, ASDA continued to implement its traditional annual activities, such as the Penny Wars fundraiser, ASDA Vendor Fair, ASDA Pre-Dental Day, “First Year First Aid” workshop, bake sale, ASDA Clinical Transitions meeting and the Bridge Builders cultural diversity showcase.

In May, University of the Pacific honored the dental school’s ASDA chapter at the 2016 Faith Davies All-University Leadership Awards Luncheon on the Stockton campus.

According to Tsu, ASDA cabinet members devised social media campaigns to help spread the word about ASDA events. These campaigns increased attendance at ASDA programs and kept the school informed of the latest happenings. “Our Q4 March Madness, one of the most exciting new events, brought together the school’s student body, faculty and staff, said Tsu. “The collaboration between school administration and ASDA leadership in executing the tournament emphasizes a strong level of communication and trust for one another. We had one of the highest student participation rates at this event, and everyone showed an unbelievable amount of spirit throughout the competition.” The tournament attracted 140 participants and 60 spectators, including alumni, faculty and staff, and raised $1,000. Pacific’s ASDA chapter received an honorable mention for this activity at the ASDA Annual Session.

“Our ASDA chapter is dedicated to creating a strong campus community and leading a variety of events on campus that highlight the different interests of our students,” said Kathy Candito, faculty advisor for ASDA and associate dean for student services. “ASDA students are some of the most amazing young men and women. They are great leaders and the future of the profession.”

“Our student-run ASDA organization is recognized as one of the most outstanding ASDA chapters in the United States,” said Nader Nadershahi ’94, interim dean. “It has become a national model for its organization, leadership, student participation, programs for the dental school and community, collaboration with other professional and community service organizations, student advocacy and involvement on the local, state and national levels.”

In May, University of the Pacific honored the dental school’s ASDA chapter at the 2016 Faith Davies All-University Leadership Awards Luncheon on the Stockton campus. The ASDA chapter received the Student Organization of the Year Award, which recognizes a registered student organization that has made a lasting impact on the Pacific community.

“My involvement with ASDA has provided a more fulfilling and rewarding dental school experience,” said Kyle Hing, Class of 2017, member of the ASDA event coordinator team. “I’ve had the opportunities to give back to the community, further my skills as a leader and strengthen my fellowship with other Dugoni School students.”

“ASDA is just one group at the dental school,” said Truman. “There are so  many activities going on at the school and I am most excited that organizations such as ASDA, ADEA, CDA and SCOPE are coming together to collaborate on programs, whether in the community or at the school.”

Each year, the ASDA chapter increases its presence on campus as student leaders at the Dugoni School of Dentistry continue to give back to the profession and the school. Many of the exemplary individuals involved in student organizations will go on to become the future leaders of organized dentistry and will make an impact on the profession and beyond.

Kara Sanchez, BA, is the editor of Contact Point magazine.