Craig McKenzie, second-year dental student at the University of Pennsylvania, has been elected president of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). ASDA’s House of Delegates – representing all 66 U.S. dental schools – elected its 2019-20 leadership, including president, two vice presidents and speaker of the house, during its annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 2.
McKenzie recently held the role of trustee to the national ASDA Board. Prior to his term on the Board, he served as national predental consultant and chapter development chair for ASDA district 3. As an undergraduate, he founded and led the ASDA predental chapter at Virginia Tech University. McKenzie is completing a dual degree at Penn, working towards his Master of Science in Education in conjunction with his dental degree. He is a member of both the Penn Dental Pediatric Society and the Psi Omega dental fraternity. McKenzie was born in Melbourne, Australia, and grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia.
McKenzie is committed to building the relationship between ASDA and dental school administrations, as well as ensuring that ASDA’s programming supplements the dental school curriculum, stating, “We must market the benefits of ASDA to administrations as an opportunity to increase student success without increasing the financial burden to schools. We must focus on ASDA’s commitment to wellness and teaching dental students what they don’t learn in the classroom.”
Kai Huang, Alabama ’20, and Brandon Rensch, Creighton ’20 were elected as ASDA vice presidents.
Prior to the election, Huang served as trustee on ASDA’s Board and as vice president of the University of Alabama ASDA chapter. He also held positions as legislative liaison for his chapter and predental committee chair for ASDA district 5. Huang served ASDA as the national predental consultant in 2015-16. He was heavily engaged in the predental society at the University of Central Florida, where he received numerous awards for his work. He has written for several ASDA publications and presented at local and national conferences. Huang hails from Taipei, Taiwan, and emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager where he learned to speak English while attending high school.
Rensch, a native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, held the position of trustee to the national ASDA Board prior to being elected vice president. He represents ASDA as liaison to the ADA’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations and as a student delegate to the ADA Annual Meeting. Rensch also served as vice president and president of the Creighton University ASDA chapter. Rensch volunteers at local urgent care dental clinics, has taught a community CPR clinic and participated in an aid and mentorship program for individuals with disabilities.
Anisha Pandya, Boston ’20, was elected ASDA’s speaker of the house. At the Boston University ASDA chapter, she held leadership roles as legislative liaison and executive committee member. Nationally, she was appointed to ASDA’s Council on Advocacy as legislative coordinator and served as a student delegate to the ADA Annual Meeting. She has also held several advocacy positions on the district level. Pandya, who grew up in New Jersey, is active in oral health instruction and providing volunteer screenings for a variety of schools and organizations in the Boston area.
The American Student Dental Association is a 24,000-member, national, student-run association that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. ASDA is the largest dental student organization, representing 92 percent of all students at each of the nation’s 66 dental schools. ASDA and its members advocate locally and nationally for licensure reform, eliminating barriers to care and addressing dental student debt. Beyond advocacy, ASDA programming focuses its members on leadership development, wellness, ethics and education regarding outreach to underserved and diverse populations.
Photo, from left: Nancy Honeycutt, CAE, executive director; Brandon Rensch, vice president; Craig McKenzie, president; Anisha Pandya, speaker of the house; and Kai Huang, vice president