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Member Spotlights

ASDA’s membership is made up of more than 22,000 dental and predental students from dental schools and undergraduate institutions across the United States. Each month, ASDA profiles one member in the e-newsletter Word of Mouth. Likewise, one legislative liaison is profiled in the monthly e-newsletter Advocacy Brief. Below you’ll find student profiles from the past two months.

If you would like to be featured in Word of Mouth, contact Kim Kelly, senior manager, publications, at Kim@ASDAnet.org. Legislative liaison spotlights are chosen by ASDA’s Council on Advocacy. If you’re a legislative liaison and would like to be featured, reach out to your legislative coordinator to discuss future opportunities.

First Impression - Predoctoral

 2016 Kailee WilliamsName: Kailee Williams

Hometown: Homer, New York

Chapter: New England

Position held at chapter: chapter secretary and social committee chair

Email: kwilliams20@UNE.edu 

Graduation year: 2019

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? I have always wanted to do something that involves patient care. When my own dentist heard this, she encouraged me to spend time in her office and see if it might be something I enjoyed. I was blown away by the way her office was run, by how close-knit the staff was with each other and how much they cared about their patients. I knew this was what I wanted to do too.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…more about the issues and concerns facing dentistry and a profession and how organizations like the ASDA and the ADA are actively working to confront them.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? First year is a bit overwhelming with the heavy course loads, but what makes it all worthwhile are the connections that you begin to make and strengthen with your classmates and instructors.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Unfortunately, the first year requires a lot of lectures to prepare us for our boards, which means a lot of time in a classroom stuck behind a computer screen.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? As hard as you try, sometimes there is a week, or a day, where the craziness of school and life catches up with you and you don’t perform as well as you expect or want. You learn quickly that you can’t dwell on it, and you figure out how to do better on the next task.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? My senior year in college I traveled to Italy to tour with my choir. We were able to see so many beautiful places, sing in really extraordinary locations and I will never forget it, especially because I was able to do so with many of my closest friends.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Picking up and moving to Washington, D.C. with no guarantee of a place to live after the first month and taking a position with no experience. I did it in order to gain experience in dentistry and to challenge myself to live far from home on a tight budget and in a place significantly bigger than what I was comfortable with. It all worked out and I ended up living there for two years. It also inspired me to pursue opportunities to get involved with legislation that affects dentistry.

 


Leader Spotlight

 2016 Shukan PatelName: Shukan S. Patel

Hometown: Plano, TX

Chapter: Baylor

Position held at chapter: First Delegate

Graduation year: 2018

Why do you want to be a dentist? As I've gone through school, I have realized that dentistry is a great mix of artistry, healing and problem-solving. Each patient case presents itself like a puzzle, and diving into different options and solving that puzzle is an aspect that really appeals to me. I think going into a field that is such a mix of different things keeps it interesting. There always seems to be something new in dentistry, and the idea that there are so many different options to help a patient have a better health outlook is exciting. I would also love to get more involved in community dentistry in the future, especially on a global level. Dentistry is a luxury in most places even though it should be a part of basic care, and helping to bridge that gap is a long-term goal of mine.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? I think a leader's most important quality is awareness, especially awareness of one's self. Self-awareness plays a huge role in how your team members may react to you, how you may go about solving a conflict and even how you may inspire your team to fulfill a goal. I also think it also plays a huge role in knowing when to step back. Leaders that are self-aware may be able to better pinpoint when they should let someone else lead the team; I think this ties in with knowing that team success is more important than individual success. Being aware of your surroundings, your effect on people and your attitude can really help create an atmosphere of innovation and inspiration.

 


Legislative Liaison Spotlight

 2016 Melani FultonName: Melani Fulton

Chapter: Iowa

Position held at chapter: Legislative Liaison

Graduation year: 2018

What got you interested in advocacy? Public policy has always been an interest in my life; it was actually my college major before I found my passion in dentistry. Advocacy allows me to help shape public policy by educating and advising the legislators that write it.

How do you stay up to date on legislative activities? I use ASDA legislative briefs and the various tracking tools found on official legislative websites. However, keeping your ear to the ground with legislators, lobbyists and your contact list is invaluable.

How do you engage students at your school? Local issues have engaged a lot of students, such as the discussion that recently led to a change in our dental licensure path here in Iowa. It’s also important to engage students in other areas of their career, such as access to care that affects the patients in their chair every day.

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to stay and practice in my home state of Iowa as a general dentist. I’m sure advocacy will be a part of my future, but I don’t know what that path looks like yet.

If you could have dinner with one historical or political figure, dead or alive, who would it be? James Madison, a brilliant mind that shaped our nation. He was a great advocate as a co-author of The Federalist Papers that were critical to ratifying our constitution.

 


First Impression - Predental

 2016 Afreen AhmedName: Afreen Ahmed

Graduation year: 2017

Predental Club: Benedictine University Pre-Dental Club

Position held at club: President

Hometown: Addison, IL

Why do you want to be a dentist? In my eyes, dentistry is the perfect culmination of all my interests and personal fulfillment that can only be obtained through working with my hands. I also love that as a dentist, I can one day have the power to bring literally bring smiles to others.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? The application process of course!

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I greatly value the need for being an active member in the community to benefit others. My passion for the dental field and desire to serve others in a way that will impact overall health will help me to provide quality dental care to my future patients.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Million Dollar Baby

Share one thing on your bucket list: It’s long since been a dream of mine to name a Crayola crayon! I’m open to any color but I especially love the range of hues in the color red.

 


Member Spotlight Archives


First Impression - Predoctoral

Joel Deehr, Midwestern-Arizona '19

 2016 Joel DeehrName: Joel Deehr

Hometown: Spokane, Washington

Chapter: Midwestern-Arizona

Position held at chapter: D1 historian

Email: jdeehr72@midwestern.edu 

Graduation year: 2019

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? Before dental school, I worked at Henry Schein as a software developer. Working in the industry every day prompted me to look into dentistry as a career.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…that I don’t need to have all the answers yet.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Learning about all the professional opportunities and career options that await.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Having the equivalent of a final every Tuesday.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? I got hammered on a waxing practical and learned that I had been assuming my abilities were fine without seeking honest feedback.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? Korea - the food is healthy, good and cheap. Also, the language and people are fantastic.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Quit my software job and started dental school with a wife and three little boys!

 

Stephen Raines, Tennessee '17

 2016 Name: Stephen Raines

Hometown: Camden, Arkansas

Chapter: Tennessee

Position held at chapter: Editor

Email: jraines7@uthsc.edu 

Graduation year: 2017

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? My Dad (General Dentist)

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…For the first year, I wish I would have known how to organize my time while studying, to make the most out of the time I spend studying each subject. It was very easy to get overwhelmed and try to study everything all at once, but I needed to learn to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember it's a marathon not a sprint.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My favorite thing about this year, by far, is patient relationships. While that is a good thing, it can also be the most challenging aspect to deal with. Some people have simple teeth, but difficult personalities. What is uniquely good about dealing with difficult people, is the satisfaction you get when you win that person over about their dental health. It doesn't always happen in one appointment or even two, but it will eventually happen and that is very rewarding.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Balancing clinic and academics. It's so much more difficult to study when I'm constantly having to schedule and reschedule patients, and it's even harder to find the motivation to study at home after a long day in clinic.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? It's been tough to learn that I can't do everything for everyone, all the time. Being an ASDA leader and President of my dental fraternity (Xi Psi Phi) can be trying at times. The best way to overcome constantly having tasks to do, is through delegation. There is a reason that we have an executive council for all of our organizations, if the person in charge tries to do everything there might as well not be any other elected officials.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? That is a tie between Chicago and Washington D.C. I went to both cities for the first time ever last year for NLC and Lobby Day. Both cities are very unique and can't really be compared to the other. D.C. Is great for the history of course, and I'm a little bit of a political nerd so getting to see the city was incredible. Chicago was awesome for many reasons, one of my favorites being the layout of downtown. You can spend years in Chicago and not see everything on Michigan Avenue, and the Pier was spectacular.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? That would have to be proposing to my wife. I think that qualifies as one of the bravest things any man can do. Getting on one knee and asking her to spend the rest of our lives together takes a lot of courage but hey, when you know you know.

 

Michael Rosen, Arizona '19

 2016 Name: Michael Rosen

Hometown: Calabasas, California

Chapter: Arizona

Position held at chapter: Health and Wellness Chair, Vendor Affairs Committee Member

Email: mrosen@atsu.edu 

Graduation year: 2019

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? I was first exposed to the art of dentistry through my father, who is a general dentist. As I grew up, I realized that the mouth is the gateway to systemic well-being and that a dentist has the potential to significantly improve a patient’s health. My ultimate goal in becoming a dentist is to provide many of our world’s citizens with a chance at a beautiful and healthy smile.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…that D1 year is not as hard as it was made out to be. With the proper scheduling, study skills and a dash of determination, success in D1 year is there for the taking! Also, adequate sleep goes a long way on exam day. Keep that in mind before you decide to pull your next all-nighter.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My schoolmates. My class has quickly grown into one large, happy family, more so than the Brady Bunch. We support one another through the good and the bad and motivate each other to succeed. The upperclassmen have also taken us under their wing and never hesitate to provide us with sound advice and assistance. I am beyond grateful for my ASDOH family!

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My least favorite thing has been the constant pressure to excel. Theoretically, one poor score could decide whether or not you get accepted to your dream residency program. However, I think it’s important to always stay positive. You cannot change your past grades, but you can learn a lesson from every mistake and use each experience as a building block for success in your future endeavors.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? Never underestimate a class. The classes that you brush off as easy may come back to haunt you when you’re cramming for the final. Prepare for every class as if it is the hardest one. Be well prepared, and you’ll be just fine!

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? En route to my backpacking trip to Thailand, my flight stopped in Tokyo. I was only there for a couple of hours, the airport sushi was out of this world! Thailand was fun too.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Moving to Arizona in the middle of summer. The heat is no joke! There is no escaping the sun’s merciless wrath, and even the swimming pools get too hot to cool off in. But I do prefer to bask in the sun year-round than to suffer through the East Coast winters.

 

Falon Rozhitsky, Rutgers '18

 2016 Name: Falon Rozhitsky

Hometown: Manalapan, New Jersey

Chapter: Rutgers

Position held at chapter: President-elect

Email: falonro@sdm.rutgers.edu 

Graduation year: 2018

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? I knew I wanted to be a dentist after a shadowing experience I had during my sophomore year in undergraduate. I shadowed the general practice residency program at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ, and one dentist in particular made me fall in love with the field. He had a natural talent for interacting with his patients while simultaneously bringing their smiles back to life. The immediate gratification he was able to give his patients made me realize that dentistry was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My passion for the field continued to grow as I learned more about the barriers to care that still exist within underserved communities throughout New Jersey. I knew I wanted the opportunity to actively make a difference and contribute to breaking these barriers.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…the importance of balancing dental school with life. My first year I was entrenched in my studies, and I wasn’t able to reciprocate the love and support that my friends and family give me everyday.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My favorite thing about my current year in dental school is how close my entire class has become. Our first day of dental school we all came in not knowing one another and having no idea what to expect of the journey ahead of us. However, I feel that as time has passed we have learned to lean on each other. Sometimes many of us tend to forget that life outside of dental school continues to move forward regardless of how engrossed we are in our studies. My classmates and I have all gone through obstacles both inside and outside of school in the past year and a half and I don’t know how we would have gotten through these obstacles without the camaraderie that exists between us.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My least favorite thing about my current year in dental school is the amount of lab work we have in combination with didactic classes. This is definitely a well-known expectation for second year, but can still be overwhelming at times.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? Dental school has taught me to live by one of my favorite phrases, “fall seven times, stand up eight.” I came into dental school with so many expectations of how things would turn out, however, life isn’t always that easy. I continue to remind myself that as long as I give 150% effort to everything I do, stand back up on my feet, and do better the next time around, I am doing something right.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? I went to Disney World two years ago and the opportunity to relive my childhood was the greatest experience I could have asked for. Life flashes by in the blink of an eye and the opportunity to immerse myself in a world that brought me so much joy as a young girl was incredible.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The bravest thing I have ever done was running for vice president of my class. I have always been a very nervous public speaker and even more so running against six of my other classmates for the same positon. Standing in front of ninety new faces asking them to instill their trust in me for the next four years was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. After I was elected, I realized the importance of using my fear to aid me in accomplishing things I had never thought were possible.

 

Paul Lamoreau, Oregon '19

 2016 Paul LamoreauName: Paul Lamoreau

Hometown: Lodi, California

Chapter: Oregon

Position held at chapter: Oregon Dental Association liaison

Email: lamoreau@ohsu.edu 

Graduation year: 2019

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? I can boil my decision to become a dentist down to one defining moment. Roughly five years ago, I was the owner of a martial arts academy and was practicing knife disarming in preparation for a test. Although we were using a non-bladed training knife, I still broke tooth #26 when a botched disarm sent the knife flying right into my mouth. Having my mouth damaged and fear of losing my “incisive edge” sent me straight to the dentist.

I should mention - I hated the dentist. Every trip to the dentist I ever had was filled with pain and shame. I knew I was going to receive an injection, and I could already picture the discomfort. Suffice it to say I almost turned the car around several times and was very close to convincing myself I’d look tougher with a snaggletooth.

The dentist I saw was Dr. George R. Olfson, and moments after investigating my tooth he said the dreaded phrase, “I’m going to have to give you a few shots.” Expecting the worst, I was amazed that I felt neither shot. It was those moments of painless injection that gave me appreciation for dentistry as an art and set me on the path to becoming a dentist.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known… On the eve of an immunology exam, it’s hard not to say something cytokine related - however I wish I would have known that I would be using my undergraduate science coursework way more than I thought and as such I should have kept my old notes.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My classmates, the class of 2CanineTeen (2019), are the best in the world.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? I didn’t spend my entire life getting here to have least favorite things.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? “The punch cut is critical…”

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? Maui – I married the love of my life there.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? At 31 years of age, I quit a great paying job to go back to school to chase this crazy dream of giving people confidence in their smiles.

 

Clay Jackson, Louisville '19

 2016 Clay JacksonName: Clay Jackson

Hometown: Mount Vernon, IL

Chapter: Louisville

Position held at chapter: Class of 2019 Representative/member of the Student Engagement Committee

Email: csjack04@cardmail.louisville.edu 

Graduation year: 2019

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? The experiences that inspired me to become a dentist were going on a mission trip to Sartenejas, Honduras, and working in free extraction clinics in the central Illinois area. Getting to meet the local citizens, building relationships and being able to see the need for dental care in other communities helped me realize that I wanted to become a dentist. Growing up in a rural community in southern Illinois, I have experienced firsthand that there is a need for healthcare providers. I want to see quality healthcare in rural areas and third-world countries by giving back time and resources to communities that can benefit from it.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known… Before starting dental school, I wish I had known the importance of not comparing myself to others in my class. My classmates are extremely smart and many of them have progressed with their hand-skills faster than me. I have learned to accept that and focus on doing the best that I can. In four years, we are all going to be dentists and there is no need to get down and stressed out by constantly comparing ourselves to each other.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? My favorite thing about this year in dental school has to be making the friends and forming relationships. Getting to know my class has really been an adventure and I would not want to share these next four years with anyone else. I have also enjoyed exploring the city of Louisville, Kentucky. I have never lived anywhere outside of Illinois, and Kentucky is feeling more like home every day. My wife and I have really enjoyed the restaurants, sporting events, parks and community that Louisville has to offer. We can’t wait for the summer to come around and to experience the Kentucky Derby.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Studying for all the exams in the basic sciences: physiology, histology, biochemistry, anatomy… enough said. We rarely get a break.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? The toughest lesson I have learned since being in dental school has to be that hand skills don’t come naturally to everyone and you can’t be perfect at it overnight. Holding a hand-piece or carver for the first time is like learning how to drive a car again. It takes a lot of practice, so going into lab time after hours and asking professors for assistance and techniques really can help you get better with your skills.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? My favorite place I’ve traveled was the Big Island in Hawaii. It was a family vacation around Christmas time. We went on an ATV tour through the Hawaiian valleys and hills, snorkeled in the blue ocean, went to a traditional luau and enjoyed some amazing local Hawaiian cuisine. The best part of vacation was when I proposed to my wife on Waikoloa Beach, and she said yes! It’s a vacation I will never forget.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The bravest thing I have ever done was enter a weight loss competition. I weighed more than 300 pounds when I completed undergrad in December 2014. I lost more than 80 pounds before dental school started in July. It took a lot of motivation and commitment. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and friends. There were many times throughout those seven months that I was tempted to skip exercising or have a piece of delicious cake, but I had to have self-control and I am forever thankful for that. I know my health is in much better shape now than it was before.

 

Kelly Nelson, WesternU '18

 2016 Kelly NelsonName: Kelly Nelson

Hometown: Bellevue, WA

Chapter: WesternU

Position held at chapter: Newsletter editor-in-chief

Email: knelson@westernu.edu 

Graduation year: 2018

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? I always wanted to be in health care, but only wanted to work on the head and neck. After a medical mission where I shadowed the local Panamanian dentist, I stumbled into my future career and have never looked back.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known… not to wear pants that you like during endo procedures.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? I love how I am able to be in clinic and at off-site locations assisting upperclassmen, scaling off calculus and getting to know my future patients.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Quite obviously, my least favorite part of D2 is studying for NBDE Part I, one of the many rites of passage that all dental students must overcome.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? Learning how to balance the many aspects of my life while devoting myself to my studies has proven challenging, but will only make me a stronger person.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? I had the luxury of living in Cádiz, Spain for nearly half a year. The unique culture, rich history and beautiful beaches are why I consider it my second home.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The bravest thing I have ever done was overcoming my own insecurities and applying to dental school. Never doubt your abilities and always push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Brooke Shelton, Louisville '18

 2016 Brooke SheltonName: Brooke Shelton

Hometown: Bowling Green, KY

Chapter: Louisville

Position held at chapter: president-elect

Email: beshel01@louisville.edu 

Graduation year: 2018

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? Dr. Tom Carroll of Bowling Green enjoyed his job as a dentist so much that he inspired me to become a dentist. I knew that I wanted to be a dentist because of the passion he demonstrates for his job and for patient care.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known… that I could have majored in anything I wanted during undergrad. I absolutely love math! It sounds nerdy, I know, but I am not one who enjoys memorizing tons of information. I would rather utilize an equation and try to figure out how to apply it, which reminds me a lot of dentistry. You are given a problem and must use your knowledge to formulate a solution for your patient.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Even though it can be overwhelming, I thoroughly enjoy the increased load of lab work that we do during our second year. Our profession requires us to be hands-on; and lab time is the best way to learn from our mistakes, to make improvements and become better practitioners for our future patients.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? One word. Pathology. It seems like I am spending more time studying for this course than any other course I have ever taken while in school. I would rather spend more time studying and learning in a class that I will be applying everyday.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? Time management. This past year, I was the Student Engagement Chair for LASDA, which required 100+ hours of my time on top of my school work load. Planning the Vendor Fair and Lunch & Learns for the school was tough, but I developed many great relationships with vendors and faculty during this time. Besides that, trying to figure out how to balance studying for all the different courses can be a challenge, but definitely an educational experience.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? I love LOVE Gatlinburg, TN. I have been there multiple times with my family, but during my first year in dental school a large number of my classmates traveled there together to stay in cabins and enjoy each other’s company. It was amazing being able to spend time outside of school with my classmates in a city that is surrounded by mountains and trees with fun activities to do right on the strip.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? My boyfriend, Edwin, and I love to go wheeling in his Jeep. We were visiting Blue Holler in Edmonson County, Kentucky, and came across a steep hill with a 3-foot ditch on one side. I was terrified, but he kept insisting that we go up this hill and that we would “just need to straddle each side of the ditch on the way up.” About halfway up, the jeep slid into the ditch, and we were inches from flipping over. So, what next? Edwin jumped out of the jeep and told me to get in the driver’s seat so he could pull out his winch and attach it to a nearby tree. I have driven a stick shift only once in my life. The winch cable snapped off the tree, I started rolling backwards and was right back in the ditch. After an hour of maneuvering, we were finally able to back down the hill.

Desseree Lysne, Midwestern-Arizona '17

 2016 Desseree LysneName: Desseree Lysne

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Chapter: Midwestern-Arizona

Email: DLYSNE82@midwestern.edu 

Graduation year: 2017

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? Dr. Volcheck, the director of Central Arizona Shelter Services Dental Clinic, inspired me to become a dentist. Dr. Volcheck is the most positive and inspiring person I have had the opportunity to work with. His compassion for patients in unlike any other doctor I have met. After volunteering for one day at CASS, I knew dentistry was the profession I wanted to belong to!

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? I absolutely love working with my patients. I am pretty sure I won the patient lottery because all of my patients are kind and very grateful for the work I provide for them.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? I am SO busy. I love doing dentistry, but the lab work really starts to pile up. Staying late to finish up lab work takes valuable time away from being home with my family.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? Knock on wood, but I haven’t learned any very tough lessons yet. I work with doctors who are very patient and understanding. I treatment plan my patients from start to finish with the doctor who directs my suite, and thinking through the whole process before I start treatment really helps me avoid making big mistakes.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? Alaska! I have been lucky enough to visit AK several times during both the winter and the summer. Alaska in the summer is the most beautiful place I have ever been. My favorite memory of Alaska is hiking out into the wilderness and getting lost … not on purpose! Alaska is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can actually lose GPS and cell service; this can be terrifying but also extremely freeing.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The bravest thing I have ever done is having a baby in dental school! I have a 5-month-old baby girl named Savannah. I thought being a dental student was hard, but being a first-time mommy (for me) is 1000x more difficult and rewarding! Although it is extremely tough, I am glad I had her during school because my school classmates and faculty are like family and made the entire experience much easier. Luckily, I have an amazing dental school partner who was extremely understanding of the whole process, even when I was nine months pregnant and very slowly working on patients!

Alexander Hodge, LECOM '17

 2016 Alexander HodgeName: Alexander Hodge

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Chapter: LECOM

Email: alexander.hodge@dmd.lecom.edu 

Graduation year: 2017

What or who inspired you to become a dentist? My father has been a dentist for 40 years in the Seattle area, and I’m inspired by his exceptional communication skills that put patients at ease. I’m using his attitude as a model for how to be successful. He has also used his experience and passion for oral health to be a leader in the community, which I think is telling of his character. He was just voted top dentist in the area by his peers!

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known… that everything was going to work out fine. I was too stressed my first year to enjoy the excellent standard of living down here at LECOM.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school? I get to be with patients all day! Bill Nye taught me you can learn from every person you meet- and that’s how I try to frame my daily interactions with all sorts of interesting people I might not meet if it weren’t for their exceptional oral care needs. I believe the exact quote is “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t,” which is how I try to pick up something new from each patient.

What is your least favorite thing about your current year in dental school? Waiting for check-offs in clinic—it means I have to make lots of small talk.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far? It’s often more important to get along than it is to be right. This is also good marriage advice.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? I am a passionate traveler, and thought I would have to give it up for school, but it can be done even with limited time and financial restraints! My wife and I squeezed Egypt, Germany, Switzerland and Austria into one week between semesters. I also went to Peru over Thanksgiving to help less-fortunate kids. My lifetime favorite is Ethiopia—I went there for 9 weeks in undergrad to help teach kids in an area heavily affected by HIV.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Starting my life over at 30 to follow my dream to be a dentist. My wife has been very supportive and I couldn’t have done it without her.

First Impression - Predental

Emyli Peralta, predental

 2016 Emyli PeraltaName: Emyli Peralta

Graduation year: 2019

School: University of Central Florida

Predental Club: UCF Predental Student Association

Position held at club: Sergeant at Arms Director

Hometown: Kissimmee, FL

Why do you want to be a dentist? When I was younger, I was insecure about my smile because my teeth were oversized and crooked. I got braces in the 7th grade and was fascinated at the thought that my dentist and orthodontist seemed to be only fixing my smile, but in reality were fixing so much more. I am motivated to become a dentist because fixing a person's smile can change their entire world, and I want to be a part of that change.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? What I am most nervous about for dental school is performing my first procedure on a live patient. When I am in dental school, I will probably spend all of my free time in SIM labs practicing procedures over and over again.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I think that I will make a good dentist because I love helping people and am very passionate about dentistry. I believe that technique can be taught, but passion for the career and compassion for the patients cannot.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? The last thing that I watched on Netlix was Mad Men. I have heard really great things about the show and was trying to see what the hype was about, but I am having trouble catching onto the bandwagon.

Share one thing on your bucket list: One thing on my bucket list is to do dental mission trips in order to provide much-needed dental care to some of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world.

 

Ali Raza, predental

 2016 Ali RazaName: Ali Raza

Graduation year: 2016

School: Michigan State University

Hometown: Worchester, MA

Why do you want to be a dentist? I want to be dentist so I can help people that are less fortunate receive the dental care every human being deserves. Dentistry satisfies my other goals of being my own boss, establishing my own private practice, and my desire to travel the world to help people.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? I am most nervous about keeping up with my hobbies and extracurricular activities through challenging dental school courses.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I believe I will make a good dentist because I understand the responsibility and commitment that it takes to establish a private practice. My father came from overseas in search for a place to start his very own medical office as a physician. He had to go through many trials and tribulations in order to build his image his reputation and expertise in America. I have seen my father go through these problems and I can apply the solutions that he used to my very own life.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? I last watched Dexter on Netflix.

Share one thing on your bucket list: I would love to go skydiving over the Palm Islands in Dubai.

 

Rosalind Herkommer, predental

 2016 Rosalind HerkommerName: Rosalind Herkommer

Graduation year: 2013

School: Pacific Lutheran University

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Why do you want to be a dentist? Dentistry is just the right blend of science and artistry for me. I am an arts-and-crafts kind of person that also has a passion for science and a love of people. I think dentistry is a great career choice that can satisfy all of those needs.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? Getting in. All the new skills and tools that one has to master in dental school are just a matter of diligent studying and hard work (which we are already journeymen at), but trying to convince a committee of strangers that you are worth taking a chance on will wreck your nerves. It feels like giving your phone number to the person of your dreams (who is way out of your league) and then spending your days staring at the phone knowing when they do call, it may be just to say "No, thank you."

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? Because I am emotionally ready. At 30 years old, I have done a lot of things and been a lot of places before landing here. I have weathered many storms, from family hardship to being deployed overseas, and what's to be said about certain sufferings is that they can make you stronger once you've made it to the other side. And as such, you get to go forward being a little less easily ruffled than before. People want to put their health care in the hands of someone who is unflappable (If the news is bad, you can't both be freaking out). And while I can still be made nervous, I am not easily rocked.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? There is a show from Animal Planet that you can get on Hulu called "Too cute!" and it is my favorite way to rot my brain. After a long day, I have no desire to solve mysteries, keep up with witty dialogue, or watch humans being dysfunctional. I just want to sit back, let my brain idle, and watch puppy after puppy tumble off a sofa.

Share one thing on your bucket list: I really want to milk a cow. Seriously. Maybe it's because I grew up in a big city and never saw farm animals or had pets that I just developed this deep-seated desire to do the “farmiest” activity I can think of. Who knows? That's where it stands though. I'd even milk a goat.

 

Zohair Khan, predental

 2016 Zohair KhanName: Zohair Khan

Graduation year: 2016

Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

Why do you want to be a dentist? Fifteen years ago, when I was in my homeland, my mother had a dental check-up as she had been experiencing a severe teeth-grinding problem. She found her teeth were off-colored and fractured/chipped, which she presumed to be because of cavities. The dentist, without knowing my mother's views, chose "capping" as the only option. During the operation, when her teeth were being drilled and she had tears in her eyes, I had a feeling that my every inch was withering away and I wanted to do something, but wasn’t able to. When I found myself unfit to help my mother, I somehow developed some kind of grudge against the dentist who solely decided for the treatment—but not the other method, which might be much better and painless.

From that day, the feeling had become a part of my genes and has become a driving factor to be the dentist to provide all the options – with their disadvantages and advantages—for the patients to select. In addition to that, I desire to be that dentist that will be researching and developing innovative methods to prevent patients from having the feeling of losing original/natural teeth!

What are you most nervous about for dental school? As there is a lot of competition (in GPA, DAT score, extra-curricular activities, etc.), it makes me feel that I have insufficient mental energy to compete with the brightest students. Hence, I usually find myself overwhelmed by nervousness.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? Honestly, without flaunting or bluffing, I am a hard-working student and I believe that my hard work will show results in the upcoming years.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Numerous films/drama: The Hunger Games (the latest installment), World War Z, Walking Dead, Salem Witch; Mr. Bean, The Supernatural and The Originals

Share one thing on your bucket list: To make my parents proud of my achievements and successes in all parts of my life.

 

Omer Hillel, predental

 2016 Omer HillelName: Omer Hillel

Email: ohillel1@binghamton.edu 

Graduation year: 2016

Predental Club: Pre-Dental Association (Binghamton University)

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

Why do you want to be a dentist? My mother, a pediatric dentist herself, has always been my role model, support system and life coach. Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to follow in her footsteps as an educated, strong and independent woman. Additionally, I have always valued my teeth and consider them to be one of my best physical traits. I believe as a dentist I can spread smiles across the world.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? I would say I am definitely more excited than nervous to get one step closer to my dream of being a dentist, although I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about all the work! Despite how challenging I anticipate dental school to be, I believe my Binghamton education has prepared me well to succeed in this next step.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I know I will be a great dentist because manual dexterity has always been a strong suit of mine. Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to shadow some of the best dentists in the world. With their support, combined with the education I will receive and my determination to be the best, I know that I am destined for greatness.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Grey’s Anatomy, because there are not any good dental soap operas out yet.

Share one thing on your bucket list: Last year I went on a medical service trip to Guatemala where I was able to get hands-on experience in the pre-health world. It is on my bucket list to go back to Guatemala as well as explore the rest of the world, helping those desperately in need of oral hygiene and care.

 

Craig McKenzie, predental

 2016 Craig McKenzieName: Craig McKenzie

Email: cpmckenz@vt.edu 

Graduation year: Spring 2017

Predental Club: Pre-Dental Club at Virginia Tech

Position held at club: Vice-President

Hometown: McLean, Virginia

Why do you want to be a dentist? I love that dentistry is able to dramatically change someone’s health, confidence level and smile in as little as one day. The instant gratification of being able to make a difference in a person’s life is unmatched by any field.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? I’m most nervous about having time to continue my hobbies and involvement in extracurricular activities on top of the rigorous curriculum.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I’m really personable and enjoy building relationships with people. Making the patient feel comfortable is important and my ability to empathize will be appreciated by patients.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Prison Break!

Share one thing on your bucket list: I really want to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Reham Chohan, predental

 2016 Reham ChohanName: Reham Chohan

Email: rehamchohan@gmail.com 

Graduation year: International dentist from Pakistan, graduated in 2013

Hometown: Hail, Saudi Arabia; currently living in New Jersey

Why do you want to be a dentist? I feel called to serve the needy and help them relieve their pain through my dental skills.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? Working in labs for long hours.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I am a caring and a compassionate dentist. I am good at comforting patients.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Anastasia

Share one thing on your bucket list: I can’t choose just one: visit the Bahamas, go skiing with friends, get accepted to a U.S dental school, open my dental practice and provide dental care in underserved areas.

Megan Grace, predental

 2016 Megan GraceName: Megan Grace

Predental Club (if any): University of Florida ASDA

Email: megantg@ufl.edu 

Graduation year: 2017

Hometown: Palm Bay, FL

Why do you want to be a dentist? I want to serve underserved areas and make dental care more accessible. I want to help educate the community on the importance of oral care and how it ultimately affects your overall health.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? I am most nervous about getting in.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? I am passionate about providing care to those in need, detail-oriented, a leader in my community, caring, a good communicator and fascinated by the mouth and how it affects your overall health.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Parks and Rec

Share one thing on your bucket list: Scuba-dive the Great Barrier Reef.

Ian Rosengarten, predental

 2016 Ian RosengartenName: Ian Rosengarten

Predental Club (if any): Predental Association at Binghamton University

Email: iroseng1@binghamton.edu 

Graduation year: 2016

Hometown: Robbinsville, NJ

Why do you want to be a dentist? What stands out about dentistry to me is the diversity of patients a dentist sees on a daily basis. For example, in one hour you may be filling a child’s cavity and then in the next be preparing a crown for someone who’s older. Each age group offers a different set of challenges that need to be addressed and make the day more interesting.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? In addition to the student loans, my biggest fear about entering dental school is managing my time. Every dental student I have spoken to has mentioned the intensity of the classes relative to undergrad. At the same time, though, I am very excited for the challenges I will be faced with during the next four years.

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? When meeting new people, I am always interested in learning about their life and, specifically, the cultures they identify with. While working as an EMT in Israel, I learned as much Hebrew as I could so that I could identify more with patients. Next semester, I am taking medical Spanish so that I can embark on dental outreach trips to Spanish-speaking countries. Identifying with patients is a good start to any treatment plan and it is something I intend to continue as a dentist.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Friends (It never gets old).

Share one thing on your bucket list: To sky-dive off the coast of Hawaii.

Angelica Celestin, predental

 2016 Angelica CelestinName: Angelica Celestin

Predental Club (if any): Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Pre-dental Society

Email: aic36@gsbs.rutgers.edu 

Graduation year: 2016

Position held at club (if applicable): Member, Pre-dental writer for ASDA August issue 2015

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Why do you want to be a dentist? The joy of changing a person’s life by giving him or her a beautiful smile, which was once given to me as a child is one of the reasons. It would be a privilege for me to help relieve pain and suffering through the work of my hands and biomedical knowledge. Another big reason I’m drawn to dentistry is that you can set your own hours while raising a family.

What are you most nervous about for dental school? Performing simple extractions. It seems it would take a lot of strength; but in shadowing a dentist, he mentioned it's a technique and I'm anxious to learn!

Why do you think you’ll make a good dentist? Dentistry is a caring profession, and I tend to be caring by nature.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix (Hulu, Amazon Prime)? Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Share one thing on your bucket list: I would love to open a nail salon and incorporate it into my dental practice for spa dentistry!

Legislative Liaison Spotlight

Andrew Larkin, Arizona '19

 2016 Andrew LarkinName: Andrew Larkin

Chapter: Arizona

Position held at chapter: Legislative Liaison

Graduation year: 2019

What got you interested in advocacy? I have never considered myself a political person. However, upon entering dental school, I realized how legislative education and advocacy can have a substantial impact on the profession. It is truly exciting to be involved in making change and shaping our future.

How do you stay up to date on legislative activities? ASDA Engage is a wonderful tool to stay on top of the hottest issues in legislation nationwide. In addition, our school’s ASDA chapter has a wonderful connection with our state dental association, the AzDA. ASDOH ASDA and the AzDA work closely together to ensure students are up to date on dentistry’s current political landscape.

How do you engage students at your school? Improving our ASDA chapter’s legislative efforts has been an overriding goal; previously, legislative events had been labeled as boring. In order to change this perception and get more students involved and excited about advocacy, we hosted an event called Pontics and Politics. This was a debate and social co-sponsored with Midwestern University-AZ. The event was a huge success and a great example of how thinking outside the box can make legislation engaging.

What are your plans after graduation? If there was ever a million dollar question, this is it! Long term, I would like to make my way back home to my family in Lawrence, Kansas. However, the twists and turns on the road to get there may lead me somewhere I would never expect.

If you could have dinner with one historical or political figure, dead or alive, who would it be? Alexander Hamilton. The youngest and maybe most influential of all of the Founding Fathers; yet he has not gotten much credit until recently. I enjoy learning how his forward-thinking and business-savvy personality helped create the great country we live in.

 

Michael Petrides, West Virginia '19

 2016 Michael PetridesName: Michael Petrides

Chapter: West Virginia

Position held at chapter: Legislative Liaison

Graduation year: 2019

What got you interested in advocacy? A current fourth year, Kerri Simpson, got me interested in advocacy early on in my first year of dental school. She iterated the importance of promoting the well-being and the future of the dental profession. She taught me how to stay updated on current events and how to investigate the pressing issues facing dentistry today.

How do you stay up to date on legislative activities? My main resources to remain up to date on legislative activities are ASDA Engage and the ADA Morning Huddle. ASDA Engage is a great tool that narrows down the relevant legislation affecting students and members of our profession. The ADA Morning Huddle keeps me educated on the current issues and the many activities held in dentistry across the country. Also, attending events at the state, district, and national level plays a great role.

How do you engage students at your school? We hold an ADPAC drive and many lunch and learns. These events allow students to interact with dental professionals to help get their take on advocacy and the critical role we students can play in getting involved with advocacy.

What are your plans after graduation? wish I knew my exact plans following graduation. Dentistry has opened the door for a vast list of opportunities. At the very least, I would like to do a general practice residency or potentially pursue a career in prosthodontics… if I can survive fixed.

If you could have dinner with one historical or political figure, dead or alive, who would it be? I would have dinner with GV Black. He paved the road for our profession and I can only dream of having any type of impact on dentistry.

 

Sidharth Reddy, Texas - San Antonio '19

 Name: Sidharth Reddy

Chapter: Texas - San Antonio

Position held at chapter: Legislative Liaison

Graduation year: 2019

What got you interested in advocacy? I became interested in politics about two years ago when I realized just how much goes into policy-making on the state and national levels. I believe it is an honor to not only have the resources to be informed, but also discuss what I believe in with like-minded and opposed minds. I believe advocacy events are the perfect places to do that.

How do you stay up to date on legislative activities? In terms of the dental field, ASDA Engage is a great way to learn about issues affecting my profession and where dentists stand on those issues. Otherwise, I mainly read and listen to NPR. However, I truly believe you should read liberal and conservative news sites no matter what your political tendencies are.

How do you engage students at your school? Many students at UTHSCSA dental school are interested in the politics surrounding our profession so that does make my job easier. We have established an ADPAC Lunch and Learn Event in the spring to encourage our students to stay up to date on the issues many of us face today.

What are your plans after graduation? As of now, I just plan to pass my dentures exam next week!

If you could have dinner with one historical or political figure, dead or alive, who would it be? Dr. Ron Paul. I admire that he never resorted to sensationalism or theatrics and truly do feel as though he has the country’s best interests at heart. To me, that is something that should be admired. In addition, as a fellow professional in the health care field, I respect how he has represented us.

 

Alec Eidelman, Tufts '18

 2016 Alec S. EidelmanName: Alec Eidelman

Chapter: Tufts

Position held at chapter: District 1 Advocacy Chair

Graduation year: 2018

What got you interested in advocacy? Civic and community engagement began for me while working at Massachusetts General Hospital. I was a part of a public health group, Botswana Oncology Global Outreach (BOTSOGO), which is helping to develop the cancer control strategy for the country. Experiencing how health care providers can collaborate with local and national government ignited a passion for advocating on behalf of patients and populations in an effective manner.

How do you stay up to date on legislative activities? Living and learning in Boston enables unique access to powerful institutions and resources. I attend local or nationally organized lunch and learns, participate in public health journal clubs, engage in lobbying, practice community outreach and independently research current topics in dentistry and health care in local and national legislatures.

How do you engage students at your school? I am fortunate for the opportunity to interact with a diverse student body at Tufts with various interests and ideas. In my experience, listening and learning from discussions with colleagues and educators informs a stronger message to patients, members of the community, and even politicians by providing more context and connection.

What are your plans after graduation? I have recently enrolled in the DMD and Masters in Public Health dual degree program that aims to train candidates in learning the fundamentals of epidemiology, understanding health care organization, and caring for those who are served through public health policies. With the support of my education and the organizations that have enriched it thus far, I hope to continue these collaborations in various professional organizations at the state and national levels.

If you could have dinner with one historical or political figure, dead or alive, who would it be? Leonardo da Vinci, Jon Stewart

 

Jamie Lowstetter, Pennsylvania '18

 2016 Jamie LowstetterJamie Lowstetter, Pennsylvania ‘18, has been actively involved in advocacy at Penn, with District III, and has served as one of the ADPAC Externs in Washington D.C. At Penn, Jamie has tried to increase Engage numbers and ADPAC numbers by re-sending social media updates and emails to highlight and recap interesting topics. She also created an incentives program for participation. Penn recently hosted its first-ever Advocacy Week, and Jamie was critical to its success. Advocacy week featured two ADPAC presentations with the Pennsylvania ADPAC Chapter and National ADPAC, an ADPAC happy hour, a patriotism-themed "Wake Up With ASDA" and "Pretzels and Politics." The Wake Up With ASDA event gave out morning coffee with red, white and blue elephant and donkey flag cookies. In order to receive free cookies and coffee, students had to fill out the advocacy survey and register for Engage. Pretzels and Politics is an event that was held three times last semester at Penn in addition to Advocacy Week that covered topics from ADPAC, ADPAC externship opportunities, state legislation, how to get involved and active alumni in advocacy. She also organized Dinner with a Dentist for students to get to know a dentist actively involved in advocacy.

On a District level, Jamie serves as the ADPAC/Legislative Liaison for District 3. She has been planning a Bills and Brews event with both Temple and Penn chapters to mix advocacy and social events. The event will also serve as another ADPAC drive for District 3. The goal of the district event is to engage more students in advocacy issues. Jamie also is working on organizing a voter registration drive and absentee ballot drive for this year's presidential election. Lastly, she was instrumental in reaching out and communicating with state dental associations within District 3 territory. She has also been working on scheduling lobby day appointments. Due to her strong passion for advocacy and efforts, Engage numbers and ADPAC members have significantly increased at both her chapter and on the district level.

Leader Spotlight

Nathan O'Neill, New England '17

 2016 Nathan O’NeillName: Nathan O’Neill

Hometown: Calais, ME

Chapter: New England

Position held at chapter: First Delegate

Graduation year: 2017

Why do you want to be a dentist? I come from a mill town in rural Maine. This environment fosters a great appreciation for job security. My family dentist made me aware of the oral health crisis in Maine and revealed what dentistry had to offer. All that said, I think it took my own front tooth getting knocked out to realize how important oral health was to me. I knew this was something I was very capable of doing, and I’m proud to have chosen this profession.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? I think the key to leadership is surrounding yourself with motivated, exceptional individuals, and providing them with the guidance to excel. Once you’ve accomplished this you can delegate responsibility and build your organization exponentially. A team is only as strong as the weakest link, and a leader that tries to do everything will rarely succeed.

 

Lena Tami Mercho, Indiana '19

 2016 Lena Tami MerchoName: Lena Tami Mercho

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Chapter: Indiana

Position held at chapter: Second Delegate

Graduation year: 2019

Why do you want to be a dentist? I’ve wanted to be a dentist ever since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until shadowing dental offices that I knew for sure. To me, nothing is more satisfying than working with a patient to create a treatment plan that improves their oral health and well-being overall.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? The ability to bring about positive change through effective communication.

 

Taylor Velasquez, Arizona '19

 2016 Taylor VelasquezName: Taylor Velasquez

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Chapter: Arizona

Position held at chapter: vice president

Graduation year: 2019

Why do you want to be a dentist? My brothers are my inspiration to become a dentist. Two of my younger brothers are on the autism spectrum and one difficulty they came across when they were younger was when it came time to visit the dentist. They hated the dentist--and I know hate is a strong word--but my brothers would not budge when we would try to get them out of the minivan for their appointments. I couldn’t stand seeing them so distressed and hysterical, so I decided at 13 that I wanted to learn more about how I could help conquer their fear. Being by their sides during their dental treatment not only helped them, but it also gave me the opportunity to witness dentistry at a young age and the proper exposure to realize this was the career path I wanted to pursue.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? Accountability. Leaders take pride in everything they set out to accomplish. Leaders not only are representing themselves, but the entire community that they are a part of. As a young health professional, I’m held accountable for my actions on a daily basis. Leading by example is crucial in being classified as a leader and this idea sometimes is misused. Not only are you being watched when you are in action, but most importantly when you think no one is watching you.

 

La'Chanda Akers, Meharry '17

 2016 LaChanda AkersName: La'Chanda Akers

Hometown: Whitesboro, NJ

Chapter: Meharry

Position held at chapter: First delegate

Graduation year: 2017

Why do you want to be a dentist? Dentistry has been a part of me since before I identified the profession. I have always enjoyed science and service, but that includes many areas of health care. Dentistry specifically is the area of health care that truly allows you to overcome a challenge in every second. The constant feeling of overcoming those obstacles is invigorating. Dentistry challenges me to gain someone’s trust enough to not only enter their personal space, but learn about their life, and for many, help them face their fears. I enjoy the psychological component of dentistry. Growing up, I have always taken the time to analyze people. I have grown to use verbal and nonverbal communication cues to identify and meet the needs of not only patients, but also anyone who is a part of my team. As a leader, I look forward to continuing to take dentistry in a meaningful direction for disparaged communities with my big dreams and just-crazy-enough ideas. As a dentist, I will always be a leader and mentor by continuing to be educated and multifaceted.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? A vital quality is a leader with a genuine vision. This vision allows your team and you enough space to be creative and take chances. This type of leader has a journey that is unique, changes lives and remains humble. Be this type of leader. Have a focus, enjoy each experience, and regardless of how cliché it may seem, shoot to make a difference of any size.

 

Robert Springer, Minnesota '19

 2016 Robert SpringerName: Robert Springer

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.

Chapter: Minnesota

Position held at chapter: Second delegate

Graduation year: 2019

Why do you want to be a dentist? I want to be a dentist because I desire to use my skills to give people confidence with their smile and overall health. I also want to work with vulnerable populations and believe dentistry will give me many great opportunities to serve these communities.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? I strongly believe actions are more meaningful than words; therefore, I believe the most vital quality leaders should have is the ability to lead by example. It is easier to "talk the talk" than "walk the walk," and gifted leaders are those whose actions impact the community they serve.

Gayathri M. Shenoy, Tufts '17

 2016 Gayathri ShenoyName: Gayathri M. Shenoy

Hometown: Houston, TX

Chapter: Tufts

Position held at chapter: AS-IDP committee member

Graduation year: 2017

Why do you want to be a dentist? I have made this decision based on many factors. The aesthetic appeal, meeting a variety of people and diagnosing their problems and the instant gratification seen in giving others relief from pain all appeal to me. These experiences have taught me the true extent of dentistry as a career that can honestly improve the quality of people’s lives.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? The key to leadership is to lead by influence and by example, not authority. An efficient leader is also humble, a compassionate listener and a constant learner. Leadership is about empowering people and inspiring them to own their talents and bring out their best because the job of a leader is to grow more leaders!

Tyler Fix, Midwestern-Arizona '17

 2016 Tyler FixName: Tyler Fix

Hometown: Glendale, AZ

Chapter: Midwestern-Arizona

Position held at chapter: Second Delegate

Graduation year: 2017

Why I want to be a dentist: Dentistry is a phenomenal profession because of its versatility. It has roots in esthetics, medicine, pharmacology, radiology and surgery. How many other fields of work give such a variety of experiences to the provider, while also giving such personal and positive energy back to the patient? The answer is none.

The most vital quality in a leader: A strong leader is humble in recognizing that leadership has, ultimately, nothing to do with him or herself and everything to do with others. Never lose sight of the fact that it is a privilege to be a representative of your peers, as you should always be contributing toward their successes, goals and experiences. This type of mindset is one that I admire in a leader.

Alex Mitchell, Temple '18

 2016 Alex MitchellName: Alex Mitchell

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Chapter: Temple

Position held at ASDA: District 3 Trustee

Graduation year: 2018

Why I want to be a dentist: I had a really terrible fear of needles growing up and I decided that my mission would be to make kids and adults alike as comfortable as posisble while in the dental chair. It doesn't hurt that I am passionate about leadership, teamwork, business, art and advocacy because dentistry has all of them!

The most vital quality in a leader: The epitome of leadership is best captured by my all-time favorite quote from the late Stephen Covey who said, "Leadership is communicating others' worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves." I believe that the strongest leaders stay away from simple delegation and micro-management. The best leaders understand the interdependence between themselves and their team and focus on a vision based upon measurable results.

Riley Schaff, Michigan '17

 2016 Riley SchaffName: Riley A. Schaff

Hometown: Jackson, MI

Chapter: Michigan

Position held at chapter: Second Delegate

Graduation year: 2017

What do you think is the most vital quality in a strong leader? One of the most vital qualities of a strong leader is the ability to be flexible and go with the flow. As many leaders (including myself) fall into the "type-A" personality, it can be easy to get caught up in the details and subsequently become frustrated when things don't go according to plan. It's important to be able to adapt to new, unexpected situations and still be able to leader and communicate effectively.

Ronna Leigh Rowland, Alabama '17

 2016 Ronna Leigh RowlandName: Ronna Leigh Rowland

Hometown: Alma, GA

Chapter: Alabama

Position held at chapter: President-elect

Graduation year: 2017

What do you think is the most vital quality in a strong leader? A strong leader should possess the ability to uplift and motivate the people they are leading. People don't respond well to being given a task list and being sent on their way. Instead, leaders are more efficient when they encourage their members and build their confidence. A leader that knows how to implement positive reinforcement will go far.



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