As a motivated predental undergraduate in my sophomore year at Gonzaga University, I was eager to know more about the field of dentistry. My university has a pre-health club that offers support for all medical fields, but advisors weren’t knowledgeable about the specifics of dental school and recommended I contact dental schools directly. My search online constantly led me to ASDA. The predental section of ASDA’s website contains a lot of useful information. One resource that jumped out at me was “how to make a predental club if you don’t have one.” I took this as an opportunity and started reaching out to predentals at my school to form a club of students with a common goal to learn and support each other. The club is now in its second year with fifteen members and growing.
Once I had a taste of what ASDA could offer, I craved more involvement and wanted to help other predentals feel the same. I attended “Dive Into Dentistry” sponsored by the University of Washington ASDA chapter and met many dental students. I contacted one of them to learn how I could get more involved and learned about a new position as the District Predental Consultant. Because of just one ASDA event, I now have a district leadership position! As the Predental Consultant, my job is to educate, inform and assist predentals in the district.
I have also been able to attend multiple conferences including the Districts 10/11 conference in Las Vegas, the District 10 meeting in Seattle, and Annual Session in Dallas. At those conference, I picked up a wealth of information about the dental field and how to be a better leader. I also met hundreds of friendly, approachable dental students ready to talk about their paths to dental school and what their schools are like. Many have become close friends who will also be a source of information and support during my journey to dental school.
Another great opportunity arose when I was asked to join the Predental Planning Committee for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference. It’s coming up in November, and for the first time, ASDA will have an entire track specifically designed for predental students. I was proud to be one of the predental leaders asked to help create the programming for the track, and I’ve learned a lot about event planning and how ASDA educates its members.
Getting involved with ASDA has given me so many tangible and intangible benefits. The fact is, the more effort you put into your ASDA membership, the more you’ll gain from it. You could just read the e-newsletter and use the online resources. But by seeking out a leadership role or volunteering your time, you will learn more about the dental field, have opportunities to showcase your self-motivation, meet the most amazing dental students and become a better dental school applicant. As I fill out my application for dental school now, I have more leadership and service activities than I thought possible. I’ve also got people to lean on for support and guidance. I encourage all predentals to get involved in their local clubs or chapters – your ASDA experience will be so much more meaningful in the long run.
- Kelsey K. Smith, Gonzaga '17