Advocacy engagement: Coming together while staying six feet apart

ASDA’s Annual Session in 2020 inspired me to take a more active interest in advocacy. At Annual Session, I saw students legislating and taking action that would directly impact thousands of dental students. This proved the significant impact we as students could have, and I hoped that I could use my experiences to create new events for Houston ASDA’s members that would inspire them as well. I wanted to show them the immediacy and accessibility of advocacy and that anyone can effect change if only given the tools and platform to do so.

However, when our chapter’s representatives returned to Houston in February, we were faced with restrictions, cancellations and uncertainty. We could no longer hold on-campus events. We knew ASDA’s national lobby day, one of the most important advocacy events of the year, would likely be cancelled. Even if lobby day happened, interstate travel required a 14-day quarantine, which none of us could afford. How could we increase advocacy engagement when we may not even finish the school year? What significance could ASDA have for our members during this time?

The next few weeks produced radical changes for dentists and dental students. In March, the Western Regional Exam Board (WREB) released a statement suspending all exams through April with no guarantee that testing would be available at that time. Houston’s fourth-year students, many of whom planned to start residencies or enter the workforce that summer, became concerned about licensure and how the delay would affect their plans.

Read the rest of the article in the November/December issue of Contour magazine.

~Clara Kohlmetz, Texas-Houston ’23

Clara Kohlmetz

Clara Kohlmetz, Texas-Houston ’23, serves as an associate on the ASDA Council on Professional Issues, president of Texas-Houston ASDA and secretary for district 9.

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