How has ASDA helped you build your leadership skills? Holding a position in ASDA leadership every year throughout my dental school matriculation has allowed for my abilities as a leader to evolve. As a first-year dental student, I ran for president-elect of ASDA at Meharry and made the business symposium a key part of my platform. Even though I had no prior experience in planning a grand scale affair, I did not let my level of expertise overshadow my drive to establish an event that my campus has never seen before. Fortunately for me in 2019, that idea became a reality and “Beyond the Clinics” is now held annually as a Meharry ASDA staple event.
From orchestrating the business symposium to attending various conferences, my skills were cultivated to adopt the presidential seat. As president, I use teamwork as my fundamental foundation for success. Though it is impossible to prepare for a pandemic, the work of a leader does not stop — it adapts. Under my tenure as president, a Diversity & Inclusion chair was an added position to our cabinet and an Oral Health Outreach initiative was created to allow for us to reconnect with the community safely. My leadership involvement in ASDA has gifted me with priceless experiences and lessons that I will continue to carry with me as I pursue my future endeavors.
What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader? I believe that the most vital quality of a leader is to have integrity. By having integrity, I want to hold myself accountable and dive into my inner potential to become my best self. Leadership, in my opinion, is not heavily reliable on one individual, but is upheld by the trust and the collaborative efforts of the entire team. Leaders who demonstrate integrity not only allows for you to genuinely feel good about yourself but calls for you to set the example of trustworthiness and reliability for your team.
Why should members get involved with ASDA leadership positions? I strongly encourage other dental students to get involved within their school in order to develop the skills and qualities of a leader. Great leaders exercise effective communication and are able to excel in unfamiliar circumstances. Extracurricular involvement provides the opportunity to discover your own passions, strengths and weaknesses. Working with a team and building interpersonal skills is another benefit to getting involved, because it cultivates essential assets that will help you succeed beyond dental school. Our profession calls for selfless leaders who willingly support each other, acknowledges the perspectives of others and aims to build a sense of community in order to further the goals of the team.
What future leadership roles in organized dentistry interest you and why? This past year, I have had the privilege to serve as a leader within my ASDA chapter and nationally within SNDA. These roles have shaped my perspective by giving me the opportunity to observe a fragment of what it is like to be involved in organized dentistry. Councils within these national organizations that involve advocacy and diversity, and inclusion are positions that I am looking forward to holding in the future. My passion for advocacy and diversity and inclusion are interwoven together due to the advancements that are needed within the field of dentistry. As an advocate, my focus would include promoting health equity as an underrepresented healthcare professional and increasing awareness on the various dimensions of diversity. My ASDA and SNDA experiences have equipped me with the skills and reinforced my desire to pursue a position within both the NDA and ADA after graduation.