As I sit here, I can’t help but notice the decreased emails, the increased silence of my phone, and my shorter “to-do” list. Life post-presidency has not been as exciting as it once was, but it has given me some time to reflect on my experiences. What a year it has been. A year filled with accomplishments, expansions, victories, innovations and, above all, personal growth. I can never be thankful enough for those who put their faith in me as president to help continue to lead the American Student Dental Association forward. This is an experience I guarantee you I will never forget. I am going to miss the countless emails, travel and conference calls, but it is nice to be able to focus back on school and make sure I actually graduate on time.
As I look back on the year, I am very proud to have witnessed our membership become larger, our determination and drive becoming higher, and our ASDA fever igniting even hotter! I can tell you all of this from personal experience. I did my best to attend as many events around the country as possible, to see firsthand what it was like for our leaders on the grassroots level. That honestly was my favorite part of my presidency. Having the opportunity to meet so many of my future colleagues and get to know them not only in a professional way, but also on a personal level. When it became tough for me juggling ASDA and school, it was truly these people who got me out of bed in the morning.
I can’t help but laugh when I think back to my personal story. It’s incredible to think that I went from a first year who walked out of his first ASDA presentation, not even considering joining, to becoming the national president three years later. It clicked with me that organized dentistry is truly a mindset. I embodied the idea that life moves on outside of those four walls of our schools. That no matter how we feel inside, the field of dentistry is ever changing. Too often we focus on the costs, the tangibles we will get in return, or the politics at our schools instead of focusing on our duty to help protect our profession.
Now I am filled with nothing but optimism looking forward. The ADA is finally developing their own licensing test that will address the plethora of concerns with the licensure process. The number of students lobbying for student debt reform increases every year. Most importantly, the number of students entering the ADA post-graduation is steadily increasing. Seeing all this helps me know that dentistry has a bright and protected future!
~Sohaib Soliman, Washington ’17, 2016-2017 ASDA president
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