*Above: Caleb, far right, with classmates at ASDA’s Central Regional Meeting held last October in North Carolina.If you had asked me not long ago what the acronym ASDA stood for, I would have had no idea. I knew I had been automatically enrolled in ASDA as a student at Southern Illinois University, but I had no clue what the organization was about.
At the beginning of last semester, my biochemistry teacher announced that he was looking for candidates to represent our class as the D1 ASDA representative. He told us a little about ASDA and described how it was the premier student dental association. As a representative, he said we would have the opportunity to network with other students and discuss issues important to our lives. I figured I might as well apply, but I didn’t expect to win the student election. Two weeks later I found myself on a plane heading to my first ASDA meeting.
I had only been on a plane once in my lifetime, so the task of even getting on a plane and traveling to North Carolina was daunting, let alone trying to discuss dental issues with colleagues from all across the country when I had only been in dental school for a couple of months. On my way to ASDA’s Central Regional Meeting, I wondered what the sessions would be like. Would they be boring and dry? Would I spend my weekend constantly checking my phone to see how long until the session was over? What would the other students be like? These questions ran through my head as got off the plane and headed to the hotel.
The next morning I woke up super early to make sure I wasn’t late to my first session. I put on my suit and tie and rushed down to breakfast only to find I was 15 minutes early and no one else from my school had come down from their rooms. I decided to try may hand at “networking” and introduced myself to a group of students standing near the coffee. It turned out one of these students was a first year just like me. Despite the fact that he was from Florida and I was from Illinois, we had quite a lot in common. We were taking the same classes, working on the same lab projects, and both wondering how we were going to survive four years of such a rigorous course load. It was nice to see that another student from across the country was working towards the same goal and dealing with the same difficulties.
The first session I attended was a lecture by Dr. Salierno (www.thecuriousdentist.com) a young dentist who was president of ASDA from 2004-2005. Dr. Salierno turned out to be an incredibly good speaker and talked about surviving dental school. He discussed what he did to get through school, told us what’s really important in pursing specialties, and reminded us that the last student to walk across the stage at graduation is still called “doctor.” I was pleased when I realized that my fear of being bored during the sessions was unfounded.
The rest of the weekend flew by with outstanding session after outstanding session. I learned about the politics of dentistry, with the issues of midlevel providers and access to care being the hot topics for the weekend. I saw that even as students we have a strong voice as a group and politicians want to hear our stance on current issues. I heard from speakers from various specialties and learned what a person could do with continued education. During the district accomplishments portion of the weekend I learned what dental students from other universities were doing to serve their community through dentistry.
When the weekend came to an end and I began to pack up to head home, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be a part of ASDA. The regional meeting was exactly what I needed to energize me about my career choice and excite me about the world of organized dentistry. I couldn’t wait to get back to my fellow classmates and tell them what was happening on a national scale in dentistry. I am excited to be a part of ASDA and look forward to the next four years of ASDA fever.
When and where did you catch ASDA fever?
~Caleb King, Southern Illinois University ’15
If you’re looking for your national ASDA fix, come to Annual Session 2012 in Minneapolis, Minn. To learn more and register, click here.