Annual Session as an admitted skeptic

annual session 2015

This post was originally published in Vol. I, Issue 3 of Colorado ASDA’s newsletter, “The CEJ.” Chapter Editor-in-Chief Rick Collette recounts his first experience at ASDA’s Annual Session 2015 in Boston:

#ASDAFever

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “ASDA Fever.” For me, it raised several questions. What is it? Is it communicable? Is it an actual fever? Where does one contract it?

This last question was one I was determined to answer.

I had watched Colorado ASDA’s leaders return from national meetings nearly frothing at the mouth about this incredible organization, so national meetings appeared to be ground zero for ASDA Fever. I was, naturally, intrigued. When I got the nod to attend Annual Session 2015 in Boston, I had to know. I had to see if this fever was virulent enough to break down my barriers of skepticism. So I threw some suits—the non-hazmat variety—into a garment bag and set sail for Boston. I’ll try to give the skeptics in the audience a rhetoric-free idea of the experience.

A 7 a.m. flight ensured the trip got off to an inauspicious start. Bleary-eyed, I stumbled through Denver International Airport with other members of our delegation. But six hours and three cups of coffee later, I was on the ground in Boston and raring to go. The host hotel—the Westin—was far above my usual pay grade. I ogled the amenities—gilded faucets, fancy spas and a shower head that shot water from two directions. Little did I know, I wouldn’t have the chance to utilize them (except the shower.)

Annual Session requires nothing less than every waking moment of your trip. Events adorned the schedule from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, with dinners and cocktail parties every night. The daily events consisted of lectures, parliamentary proceedings and meetings. As to the lectures and meetings, some were truly great; some were, well, less-than-great. We listened to Neil Pasricha, a man whose “3 As of Awesome” talk could fire up a room of even the staunchest cynics. We met our district caucus, a group of students so zany as to be hilarious. Finally, we attended the Gold Crown Awards, wherein Colorado ASDA was recognized as the stellar chapter it is.

As far as the parliamentary proceedings are concerned, I found my interest waxed and waned, though I did find it unbelievable just how much work ASDA does on behalf of dental students. The staff and national leaders really do want the best for all of us, and you need only attend one of the delegate meetings to grasp this. But I won’t lie, much of the legislative side felt strikingly similar to a campaign. To be fair, it was a campaign, but it all felt a little too much like politics for my liking. I’ll just say that I’m glad someone else is interested in politicking for the dental profession. It is important, but it’s not my cup of tea. I love writing, and I’m happy to contribute to the greater ASDA good in a way most people would find deplorable.

The nightly amusements were just that, amusing. The drinks were [mostly] free and the food was consistently amazing. But anyone who knows me knows I’m far more comfortable writing than striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar. These events did give me an excuse to get to know the people from Colorado far better than I would have otherwise. And spoiler alert, we have some awesome people at our school.

But this leads me to my one regret of the trip. I wish I had sought out the editors from other schools. Writers can talk about writing ad nauseum. “Regular” people find it mind-numbing. Alas, the other editors are probably just as introverted as I am, likely spending any spare time reading sci-fi novels, so that did not happen.

“So,” you’re probably saying, “get to the point already! Did you catch ASDA Fever or not?” Yes, I would say I did. Did I come home frothing at the mouth? No, but I came home with a healthy respect for an organization that goes to bat for me on a daily basis. Perhaps if I were more extroverted or more passionate about legislative procedure, I would be singing a slightly different tune. But that, I think, is the beauty of ASDA; it truly can be whatever you want it to be. You can advocate, you can write, you can lecture, you can wax bureaucratic, you can socialize and make connections. But the bottom line is this: ASDA is an organization that is fighting for you, whether you support it or not. And with all these options, what’s stopping you from taking up the call? Annual Session is the coalescing ground for all things ASDA, and it truly is infectious.

For you skeptics in the audience, Annual Session was worth the trip. It’s an event I hope to attend again, and it was an experience I’d recommend to four out of five friends. And that fifth friend knows who they are.

~Rick Collette, Colorado ’17, chapter editor-in-chief

AS16_emailheaderAre you ready to experience Annual Session? This year’s meeting is March 2-5 in Dallas, Texas. You’ll get to experience everything Rick wrote about, including educational sessions, meetings of the House of Delegates, leadership elections, the Gold Crown Awards, a Dental Expo and more. Register today!

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About Rick Collette

Rick currently serves as Colorado ASDA Editor-in-chief. After graduating from CU-Denver in 2007, he worked in a gastroenterology clinic for six years, but after some serious thought, decided to “go the other direction” and go to dental school. He and his wife, Jeni, live in Denver. In his free time, Rick practices the ancient art of Nerdism— playing video games, reading and writing fantasy literature.

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