The 46th ASDA Annual Session just took place this past weekend (March 2nd-5th) and I had the pleasure of flying out to Dallas, Texas, to attend this meeting on behalf of THE NEXTDDS. The conference began on Thursday morning with a keynote speaker, Chris Bashinelli—an actor-turned-activist who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His presentation was focused on “ignoring the noise” and discovering your true passion. I felt like this was such an appropriate way to open the weekend by having us really think about what we wanted to accomplish over the next few days, whether that have been networking with colleagues or even just self-reflection. Next in line were the first speeches from the candidates running for National ASDA President and Speaker of the House. With six incredibly influential leaders running for President, it was extremely difficult for each chapter to narrow down their choices with a limit of 2 votes per chapter represented. The afternoon was spent attending different sessions on topics including what practicing in the “real world” is like and secrets to being a successful dentist. Thursday ended with the Dental Expo where over 60 vendors held booths and advertised their companies with plenty of giveaways for students to take home, along with recruiters to network with.
One of ASDA’s initiatives this year was to “be well”, and thus Friday began with an early morning yoga session to help clear everyone’s minds for the rest of the weekend’s activities. After breakfast, chapters broke out into their district caucuses where the presidential candidates and speaker of the house candidates attended and answered questions on a more personal level. This gave each of the chapters further insight as to whom they would want representing their voices as dental students on the national level. There was a poster viewing during lunch, which included several students’ research abstracts. I felt that this was a great addition to the conference as it highlighted individuals who do even more outside of the typical dental classroom/clinic setting. Friday afternoon consisted of a few more breakout sessions including topics on trends in dentistry and triaging for dental emergencies. Friday concluded with the ever-popular Gold Crown Awards. Each chapter strives to be the “Ideal Chapter” by working hard all year and compiling an application that is reviewed by the national ASDA Editorial Board. The Gold Crown Awards ceremony is a great event highlighting and recognizing those chapters that worked exceptionally hard all year.
Saturday was off to a refreshing start with an ASDA Fun Run followed by a networking breakfast. Chapters split up into their district caucuses for a brief meeting and the first ballot was cast, which narrowed down the candidates for president from six down to three. A House of Delegates meeting was held to discuss final resolutions and the second ballot was cast for the presidential election. After lunch, the winners were announced as follows: Sohaib Soliman as President, Jordan Telin and Aaron Henderson as Vice Presidents, and Matthew Bridges as Speaker of the House. The last district caucus meeting was held where we got to vote for our District Trustees to serve on the Board of Trustees, which represent the 11 national districts of ASDA. This incredibly eventful weekend ended with the President’s Gala--themed Under the Sea. With plenty of delicious food and attendees letting loose on the dancefloor, it was truly a fantastic ending to yet another memorable Annual Session.
One of the biggest takeaways from this meeting was the ability to network with not only dental students from other schools, but with vendors and other dentists as well who have made their marks in organized dentistry. Stepping out of your comfort zone to interact with strangers can be extremely difficult and something I had personally struggled with in the past. Wondering if someone is going to judge you for saying something ignorant or coming off as pompous are things people often worry about. However, just being yourself and asking quality questions can sometimes reap great rewards even on an internal and personal level. Attending annual session last year in Boston was how I gained interest in THE NEXTDDS. All it took was a simple handshake, a business card, and a follow-up email thanking them for taking the time to meet me and, after filling out an application, I was lucky enough to become the Ohio State University Student Ambassador. Attending the meeting this year as a representative of THE NEXT DDS was not only rewarding, but also gave me a different perspective on networking and reaching out to others. Anytime I would meet someone new, I would ask about their chapter back home and then follow up by handing out a flyer or business card with “thenextdds.com” for them to take home to their chapters in order to facilitate an increase in enrollment. I received lots of positive feedback and students seemed genuinely excited about what this website has to offer.
|The Ohio State University School of Dentistry ASDA Annual Session Attendees|
Also, meeting influential students from across the country and hearing about successes at their individual chapters helped me gain insight for potential new ideas to implement at my own local chapter at The Ohio State University. Shooting a text or email is a great way to gain knowledge and advice, but actually interacting on a personal level makes such a greater impact. For those of you skeptical of attending ASDA National meetings, I encourage you to get more involved and attend if you are able. These meetings have helped influence my future aspirations in organized dentistry and have helped me make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. After such an inspiring weekend in Dallas, I can proudly say that I have caught the #ASDAFever and I can’t thank THE NEXTDDS enough for this amazing and unforgettable experience.